Monmouth County Democrats recently held a debate for their three potential challengers to 18-term incumbent Rep. Chris Smith. It was a great event which spotlighted the differences between the candidates, ensuring that voters could make an informed decision in the primary.

To my surprise, one of the candidates Josh Welle consistently sided with the most conservative Republicans on many issues.

On retirement, he took a position on the far right of the aisle, blaming Americans' retirement problems on a lack of personal fiscal responsibility. He ignored the systemic issues that drive inequality, blaming those who don't have money for not saving.

He took an even more conservative position the Trump tax plan as well, stating we "had to" eliminate the SALT deduction. Rep. Smith himself voted against the tax plan, speaking out strongly against elimination of the SALT deduction which disproportionately hurts New Jersey residents.

Welle supported ballooning defense spending — at a time when the country's defense budget is larger than the next eight biggest nations' combined — and went on to describe our military as "hollowed out." The recent increase is historically enormous and is widely seen as a handout to defense contractors. Coincidentally, Welle co-founded a tech company, Severn Pacific, which contracts with the Department of Defense. Previously, in an essay for Harvard Business Review, he explained his view that war is a business opportunity.

Welle expresses frustration at being labeled "Republican Light." I suggest a solution to this problem would be to stop taking such strongly conservative positions.

Jim Silverman
Holmdel, NJ