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Born and raised in the 4th Congressional District, Tiffany Kaszuba of Howell wants to represent her party in next year’s general election and be that pragmatic, domestic issues-oriented Democrat who displaces New Jersey’s last-standing Republican from the halls of Congress.
A nonprofit healthcare lobbyist who graduated from Red Bank Regional High School, Brookdale and Rutgers, Kaszuba landed in Washington, D.C. in the aftermath of the Affordable Care Act.
The great grandniece of a Hoboken mayor (John Grogan) and field organizer for Vin Gopal in the early, lean years of the future senator’s forays into campaigning, she worked on health services and health sciences and said she is consumed with fighting to start a budget line focused on child sex abuse prevention.
It’s personal for her against incumbent U.S. Rep. Chris Smith (R-4), said Kaszuba, a rape survivor.
“Having that personal experience myself, we should have a champion on this issue and Smith has never helped never been responsive, which is strange, given his interest in human trafficking,” said the Democrat, who was appalled by Smith’s 2011 HR3, which only exempted “forcible rape” from a ban on all taxpayer funding of abortion across all federal programs.
“I don’t understand how in today’s world anyone can take that position,” Kaszuba said.
In New Jersey’s last district occupied by a Republican representative, the Democrat running in what is now a big field of contenders, among them former state department official Stephanie Schmid, said she does not consider herself an ideologue. After 30 years of Smith, Kaszuba noted, “My focus is domestic. We had someone who was only focused on foreign policy as a priority. I understand the importance of foreign policy, but I am preoccupied with the importance of seeing thriving families in the 4th District.
“I don’t like the labels; I prefer evidence-based policy,” the Democrat told InsiderNJ. “Stop worrying about labeling. It should be about making a difference. I consider myself a pragmatic problem solver. I know Capitol Hill, and I know that that is the only way to get things done.”
She does support House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s establishment of an impeachment inquiry into President Donald J. Trump “so we can make an informed opinion.”
“An inquiry opens a lot more doors to what the administration is compelled to provide to Congress,” she noted.
In addition to healthcare policy and other domestic issues, and helping to repair international relationships damaged in the Trump years, Kaszuba said she would work to secure more money to fix New Jersey’s crumbling infrastructure, including the Gateway tunnel project. “We are a very wealthy country compared to others and it is inexcusable that we haven’t gotten those funds. It’s important for us to fight to make sure we are getting back from the federal government what we’re putting in; New Jersey has historically done very poorly compared to other states.”
Along with Schmid, Kaszuba will have company from those other already-declared other Democrats in CD4: David Applefield of Red Bank, representative for special projects for The Financial Times Newspaper; and Christine Conforti of Ocean Grove, a leadership and business coach. Progressive James Keady, the proprietor of the Lighthouse Tavern in Waretown who unsuccessfully sought the party nomination for CD4 in 2018, is also a potential candidate.
“All of the candidates I’ve met with are very intent on not recreating the issues of the last primary and we are committed to all come together to beat Smith next year,” said Kaszuba, who said she is working hard this year to elect fellow Democrats in local and county races.