TRENTON — State Senator Bob Smith (D-17) thinks Middlesex County should have its own congressional representative.
While addressing a roomful of Democrats at the county’s reorganization meeting last night, which saw the easy re-nomination of county chairman Kevin McCabe to the head of the party, Smith made an off-the-cuff comment about Middlesex County needing “it’s own congressman,” and something about a “Democratic primary” being in order. The remarks elicited some buzz among pols and operatives present at the time, who thought the Central Jersey lawmaker might have taken a shot at the county’s current representation, such as U.S. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6) or Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12).
But what could have been the biggest news of the night ultimately turned out to be less controversial. PolitickerNJ caught up with Smith to get a clarification of his comments following the event, when the senator explained that he was not trying to knock down the incumbents, but simply making an observation about New Jersey’s second largest county.
“Not to cast dispersion on the county’s [current congresspeople],” Smith said, adding he thinks the two are doing a good job. “But Middlesex County is a big place. It deserves a congressperson that comes from within it.”
The last congressman to hail from Middlesex County, Smith noted, was former U.S. Rep. Bernard Dwyer, of Perth Amboy. Dwyer represented the 15th congressional district during his first term beginning in 1981, but was shifted to the 6th district after redistricting in 1980.
He was redistricted again in 1990, when CD6 was merged with CD3, then represented by Pallone, during which time he decided not to seek reelection.
Smith suggested another candidate from Middlesex County could step up in a few years, during the next round of redistricting.
“Pride of place,” Smith added, with a wink.