Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 1996, 10th term.

Born: June 15, 1965, Washington, DC

Home: Tacoma

Education: Fordham U., B.A. 1987, U. of WA, J.D. 1990

Professional Career: Practicing atty., 1991–92; City prosecutor, 1992–95.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Christian

Family: married (Sara) , 2 children

Adam Smith, a Democrat first elected in 1996, is a thoughtful, pro-business moderate who isn’t shy about expressing his irritations with both political parties. He is the Armed Services Committee’s ranking Democrat, giving his state added clout on defense matters. His name was floated as a possibility for secretary of Defense in late 2014.

Smith grew up in the Sea-Tac area. His father, a baggage handler for United Airlines who was active in the Machinists Union, died when Smith was 17. The family went on welfare. Smith worked his way through Fordham University driving trucks for UPS, and then went to the University of Washington law school. He worked as a lawyer, and then as a Seattle prosecutor, handling drunk-driving and domestic-abuse cases. In 1990, at age 25, he was elected to the state Senate, beating an incumbent Republican by canvassing the district door-to-door.

In 1995, he decided to run against first-term U.S. Rep. Randy Tate, a Republican. The two had similar backgrounds. They were born in the same year to families of modest means, were first elected to office at young ages, and were firm believers in grassroots campaigning. But Tate was a religious conservative and a strong supporter of Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, while Smith campaigned as a moderate Democrat, supporting the death penalty and tougher penalties for criminals. He attacked Tate for his support of Gingrich and for backing cuts in Medicare. Tate attacked Smith for his opposition to assigning youthful offenders to adult courts and prisons and for voting for a tax increase in 1993. This was one of the closest races in the country. In the September all-party primary, Smith led 49%-48%. In November, he won 50%-47%.

In the House, Smith joined the New Democrat Coalition, established a moderate voting record, and showed a willingness to take on established interests in his party. In July 2012, he lamented “the hyper-partisanship that is making Congress so dysfunctional.” He voted to authorize military action in Iraq and sought to improve compensation and other quality-of-life benefits for military personnel. In 2004, he was one of four Democrats who opposed a provision in the USA Patriot Act to bar law enforcement access to library and bookstore records. He joined Republicans in 2011 in voting to extend several key expiring provisions of the controversial anti-terrorism law. He supported the House-passed health care overhaul in 2009, but remained neutral on the final version until the very end in March 2010, finally agreeing to back it after pleas from President Barack Obama and others. In opposing the New Year’s Day 2013 tax and spending deal to avoid the so-called “fiscal cliff,” he accused Obama of “bad math” and of being unrealistic. “His insistence that we only tax the rich has put us in a box,” he told The Seattle Times.

On the Armed Services Committee, Smith rose quickly and earned praise for his work as chairman of two of its subcommittees. He also earned a seat on the Intelligence Committee, further bolstering his credentials on military and foreign affairs issues. When Armed Services Chairman Ike Skelton, D-Mo., lost his reelection bid in 2010, Smith jumped into the race to succeed Skelton on the panel. Intelligence Committee Chairman Silvestre Reyes of Texas was the early favorite for the job, and California Rep. Loretta Sanchez also got into the race. When the House Democratic Caucus voted, Sanchez and Smith tied at 64 votes apiece, while Reyes got 53. In a two-person runoff, Smith won by 11 votes. Skelton told National Journal in May 2011 that his successor “is a scholar, he is precise in his judgments, he is a very hard worker and knows the subject matters very, very well.” Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, who took over in 2015 as Armed Services' chairman, said that Smith has helped make the committee less partisan since assuming the ranking minority member post.

Smith has generally supported the Obama administration’s defense and foreign policies, telling The New York Times in May 2012 that they were “pragmatic and practical.” He occasionally appears on Fox News to try to refute its conservative hosts, and in 2014 was appointed to the special select committee investigating the terrorist attacks at U.S. faciliities in Benghazi, Libya. “This is a committee that should not have been formed,” he said when it was unveiled. “But since the Republicans chose to form it, I think we have to participate to do our best to bring out the correct arguments.”

As concerns rose over the influence of the Islamic State two years later, he dismissed conservative hawks' calls for swift military action against the extremist group, saying that the administration needed time to build coalitions. “We need reliable partners to work with in the region,” Smith told CBS News. “We can’t simply bomb first and ask questions later." But at a hearing several months later, he joined Republicans in urging the administration to better outline its approach. "I think too often the president does sound like he’s in the … camp that 'we don’t want to do this because we know it’s hard and we know you [the public] don’t like it,'” he said. He subsequently said that a formal request to involve the military -- known as an Authorization for Military Force (AUMF) -- should be sharply limited in how much power the president had. "I would support a more limited version and if in a few years from now, new situations emerge Congress can pass it again," he said. "I don’t think we should give the executive a blank check.”

Earlier, he said Obama “could have done a better job” in working with Congress in the days before taking military action against Libya in March 2011 as part of a NATO coalition, but still backed the president’s strategy. He was involved in attempts to help the military adapt to automatic spending cuts that went into effect in 2013 after Obama and congressional Republicans failed to reach a budget accord. He introduced a bill calling for spending reductions to be split about evenly between defense and other domestic spending programs. He also has proposed that the Pentagon change the definition of spouse to include same-sex couples and for terrorists to be tried in civilian courts rather than by military commissions.

Smith’s independence has worked well for him back home, as he has won reelection easily. In 2008, he chaired Obama’s presidential campaign in Washington state. Post-2010 census redistricting gave him a district in 2012 that was almost three-fifths new to him but more Democratic that it was before, and he took 72% of the vote in November.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-8901

(202) 225-5893

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2264
Washington, DC 20515-4709

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-8901

(202) 225-5893

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2264
Washington, DC 20515-4709

DISTRICT OFFICE

(425) 793-5180

(425) 793-5181

Evergreen Building Room 101
Renton, WA 98057

DISTRICT OFFICE

(425) 793-5180

(425) 793-5181

Evergreen Building Room 101
Renton, WA 98057

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

(253) 572-6125

PO Box 578
Renton, WA 98057

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

PO Box 578
Renton, WA 98057

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Madison Strader
Legislative Correspondent; Policy Aide

Agriculture

Shana Chandler
Chief of Staff

Animal Rights

Madison Strader
Legislative Correspondent; Policy Aide

Appropriations

Jonathan Pawlow
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Banking

Tyler Jensen
Legislative Correspondent; Policy Aide

Fernando Ruiz
Legislative Assistant

Budget

Fernando Ruiz
Legislative Assistant

Campaign

Fernando Ruiz
Legislative Assistant

Commerce

Matt Perry
District Director

matt.perry@mail.house.gov
(425) 793-5180

Fernando Ruiz
Legislative Assistant

Crime

Tyler Jensen
Legislative Correspondent; Policy Aide

Education

Debra Entenman
Deputy District Director

Madison Strader
Legislative Correspondent; Policy Aide

Energy

Madison Strader
Legislative Correspondent; Policy Aide

Rebecca Bryant
Director of Communications

Environment

Madison Strader
Legislative Correspondent; Policy Aide

Rebecca Bryant
Director of Communications

Finance

Tyler Jensen
Legislative Correspondent; Policy Aide

Fernando Ruiz
Legislative Assistant

Foreign

Linh Thai
Community Service Liaison

linh.thai@mail.house.gov
(425) 793-5180

Michael Turner
Senior Policy Advisor

Govt Ops

Fernando Ruiz
Legislative Assistant

Gun Issues

Tyler Jensen
Legislative Correspondent; Policy Aide

Health

Shana Chandler
Chief of Staff

Homeland Security

Tyler Jensen
Legislative Correspondent; Policy Aide

Shana Chandler
Chief of Staff

Housing

Shana Chandler
Chief of Staff

Human Rights

Shana Chandler
Chief of Staff

Immigration

Shana Chandler
Chief of Staff

Intergovernmental

Matt Perry
District Director

matt.perry@mail.house.gov
(425) 793-5180

Debra Entenman
Deputy District Director

Linh Thai
Community Service Liaison

linh.thai@mail.house.gov
(425) 793-5180

Pat Chiarelli
Community Liaison

Michael Turner
Senior Policy Advisor

Judiciary

Tyler Jensen
Legislative Correspondent; Policy Aide

Labor

Matt Perry
District Director

matt.perry@mail.house.gov
(425) 793-5180

Jonathan Pawlow
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Michael Turner
Senior Policy Advisor

Medicare

Shana Chandler
Chief of Staff

Military

Michael Turner
Senior Policy Advisor

Native Americans

Madison Strader
Legislative Correspondent; Policy Aide

Rebecca Bryant
Director of Communications

Public Affairs

Debra Entenman
Deputy District Director

Linh Thai
Community Service Liaison

linh.thai@mail.house.gov
(425) 793-5180

Pat Chiarelli
Community Liaison

Tax

Fernando Ruiz
Legislative Assistant

Technology

Matt Perry
District Director

matt.perry@mail.house.gov
(425) 793-5180

Jonathan Pawlow
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Telecommunications

Jonathan Pawlow
Legislative Director; Deputy Chief of Staff

Trade

Matt Perry
District Director

matt.perry@mail.house.gov
(425) 793-5180

Michael Turner
Senior Policy Advisor

Transportation

Fernando Ruiz
Legislative Assistant

Rebecca Bryant
Director of Communications

Veterans

Tyler Jensen
Legislative Correspondent; Policy Aide

Madison Strader
Legislative Correspondent; Policy Aide

Welfare

Shana Chandler
Chief of Staff

Committees

ARMED SERVICES

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Adam Smith
Votes: 192,034
Percent: 71.62%
Jim Postma
Votes: 76,105
Percent: 28.38%
2012 PRIMARY
Adam Smith
Votes: 72,868
Percent: 61.16%
Jim Postma
Votes: 27,616
Percent: 23.18%
Tom Cramer
Votes: 8,376
Percent: 7.03%
John Orlinski
Votes: 6,624
Percent: 5.56%
2010 GENERAL
Adam Smith
Votes: 123,743
Percent: 54.85%
2010 PRIMARY
Adam Smith
Votes: 63,866
Percent: 51.0%
Dick Muri
Votes: 32,116
Percent: 26.0%
Jim Postma
Votes: 24,509
Percent: 20.0%
2008 GENERAL
Adam Smith
Votes: 176,295
Percent: 65.45%
James Postma
Votes: 93,080
Percent: 34.55%
2008 PRIMARY
Adam Smith
Votes: 81,503
Percent: 64.7%
James Postma
Votes: 44,472
Percent: 35.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (55%), 2008 (65%), 2006 (66%), 2004 (63%), 2002 (59%), 2000 (62%), 1998 (65%), 1996 (50%)

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