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Candidates: U.S. Congress District 4

McGowan, the Republican challenger, thinks Chris Smith is beatable, partly because the long-term incumbent spends most of his time in Washington, D.C.

Terrence McGowan says he is serious about defeating U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, R-4th, who McGowan believes has been in Washington for too long.

The seemingly unbeatable Smith, who has served in Congress for more than 30 years, is the dean of the New Jersey Congressional delegation and wins re-election handily each time in the Republican-leaning district. He frequently has no primary challenger.

This year is different.

McGowan, who has strong military and law enforcement ties, said he sees an opportunity to defeat Smith, who he believes mostly lives in Washington and no longer represents the residents of the 4th District.

“I live in the district and I will be accessible,” he said.

Terrence McGowan

A former Navy Seal, McGowan was also a volunteer Plainsboro fire fighter, Somerville police officer and civilian veteran of the Iraq War. He now works for a company that sells software to law enforcement. He is married with two children and lives in Howell Township.

“I grew increasingly disillusioned over the years when my only choice was to vote for the Democrat or vote for Chris Smith so I decided to do something about it,” McGowan said.

“There are no shortages of issues that need to be addressed in the 4th District and one of the biggest is the fact that Smith epitomizes what is wrong with Congress. We need to send someone to Washington who actually represents the neighborhoods of the 4th District.”

McGowan said he sees federal tax issues dominating the minds of voters, with one of the biggest problems being corporations that have fled the United States to avoid paying taxes. Those companies should be given some amnesty incentive to come back to the country so they can start paying their taxes here again in the future.

In addition, he added, the tax code should not be as complicated and filled with loopholes as it is.

McGowan also is a proponent of a strong military.

Rep. Chris Smith

Smith is running on his record of working for human rights and conservative social issues. He is considered one of the strongest anti-abortion advocates in Congress.

Smith has a reputation for being an effective Congressman who maintains good constituent relations. He has said his effectiveness is more important than where he lives most of the time.

Smith has successfully authored legislation that has become law on a variety of topics, but particularly veterans’ issues, human rights issues and national security. He ranks third in Congress for the number of bills passed into law.

He is chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs and has won the title of Veterans’ Best Advocate from The Asbury Park Press, as well as honors from veterans’ service organizations.

He helped reunite David Goldman with his son Sean in 2009 after his wife refused to send the boy home from Brazil in a case that lasted five years and made national headlines. He was also at Newark Liberty International Airport recently to greet Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident who recently escaped house arrest and sought refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing before being permitted to come to the United States.

Smith has authored legislation to combat human trafficking, help autistic children, create new benefits and support for caregivers of those with Alzheimer’s disease and establish a nationwide cord blood stem cell bank so adult stem cells can be used to cure and treat patients.

The winner of the primary will face Brian Froelich of Spring Lake, who is unopposed in the Democratic primary.

Karen DeMasters is a freelance writer living in Belmar who covered the State House and New Jersey politics for more than a decade.

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