Adam Smith (politician)

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Adam Smith
Adam Smith official photo.jpg
Chair of the House Armed Services Committee
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Preceded byMac Thornberry
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 9th district
Assumed office
January 3, 1997
Preceded byRandy Tate
Member of the Washington Senate
from the 33rd district
In office
January 14, 1991 – January 3, 1997
Preceded byEleanor Lee
Succeeded byJulia Patterson
Personal details
David Adam Smith

(1965-06-15) June 15, 1965 (age 56)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Sara Bickle-Eldridge
(m. 1993)
EducationFordham University (BA)
University of Washington (JD)
WebsiteHouse website

David Adam Smith (born June 15, 1965) is an American politician and retired attorney serving as the U.S. Representative for Washington's 9th congressional district. A member of the Democratic Party, Smith previously served in the Washington State Senate.

A graduate of the University of Washington School of Law, Smith briefly worked as a prosecutor and pro tem judge for the city of Seattle before entering politics. Smith was elected to the State Senate in 1990; at 25 years of age, he was the youngest State Senator in the country. He ran in and won his first congressional race in 1996, and has been reelected 11 times. In 2019, he became the chair of the House Armed Services Committee. Politically, Smith is seen to align with moderate New Democrats although he is also a member of the Progressives.[citation needed] He is dean of Washington's delegation to the House of Representatives.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Washington, D.C. and raised in SeaTac, Washington, Smith was adopted as an infant by Lelia June (née Grant) and his maternal uncle Ben Martin Smith III.[1][2] He attended Bow Lake Elementary and Chinook Middle School, before graduating from Tyee High School in 1983. While in high school Smith participated in the Close Up Washington civic education program. His father, who worked for United Airlines as a ramp serviceman and was active in the Machinists' Union, died when Smith was 19.[3]

Smith attended Western Washington University in Bellingham for a year, later graduating from Fordham University in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science. He completed a Juris Doctor from the University of Washington in 1990. He worked his way through college by loading trucks for United Parcel Service.

Early career[edit]

After law school, Smith worked as a private practice attorney with Cromwell, Mendoza & Belur. From 1993 to 1995, he served as a prosecutor for the city of Seattle. In 1996, he worked temporarily as a pro tem judge.

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


Smith served in the Washington State Senate from 1991 to 1997. He was just 25 years old at the time of his election in 1990, defeating a 13-year incumbent Republican, Eleanor Lee, to become the youngest State Senator in the country. Smith won his seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996 by defeating another incumbent Republican, religious conservative Randy Tate. Smith has been reelected 12 times since then without serious opposition, as what was originally drawn as a "fair fight" district turned into a fairly safe Democratic seat.

For his first seven terms, Smith represented a district that straddled Interstate 5, from Renton through Tacoma to just outside of Olympia. Smith's district was significantly redrawn after the 2010 census. It absorbed much of southeast Seattle, as well as most of the Eastside. As a result, it became the state's first with a majority of residents who are racial or ethnic minorities.[4] It is also the second-most Democratic district in the state; only the neighboring 7th district, which covers the rest of Seattle, is more Democratic. For the 2012 election, Smith moved from his longtime home in Tacoma to Bellevue.

Adam Smith and Barack Obama at a campaign rally at Seattle's KeyArena, February 8, 2008.

He has been a leader in moderate "New Democrats" organizations. He serves as the chair of the political action committee of the New Democrat Coalition.[5]

On October 10, 2002, Smith was among the 81 Democratic members of the House voting in favor of authorizing the invasion of Iraq.[6] In March 2012, Smith said that US troops had done “amazing work” in Afghanistan and that it was “time to bring the troops home.”[7]

In 2006, Smith won his sixth term in Congress against Republican Steve Cofchin. Smith won 65.7% of the vote to Cofchin's 34.3%.[8]

In April 2007, Smith supported U.S. Senator Barack Obama in the 2008 U.S. presidential election.[9] He also appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews speaking for Obama. In the same year he also appeared on the Colbert Report, in the show's 434-part series known as "Better Know A District".

Smith voted against the Protect America Act of 2007, which has been criticized for violating Americans' civil liberties by allowing wiretapping without issued warrants.[10] He also voted in favor of the 2001 Patriot Act and in favor of extending the “Bush administration's warrantless wiretapping program.”[11]

In 2008, Smith won a seventh term in the House, defeating James Postma, a 74-year-old retired engineer running on a pro-nuclear power platform, with 65% of the vote.[12]

On December 16, 2010, Smith defeated Silvestre Reyes and Loretta Sanchez to become the Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Committee after Chairman Ike Skelton was defeated for reelection. In the first round, Sanchez and Smith earned 64 votes with Reyes earning 53. In the runoff, Smith defeated Sanchez by 11 votes.[13]

In 2011, recognized for his work in fighting global poverty, Smith became only the second member of Congress selected to the Borgen Project's Board of Directors.[14] In the same year, he argued against cuts that could “jeopardize our national security” and leave the US “more vulnerable to nuclear terrorism.”[15]

Smith as a representative during the 109th congress

In 2001, Congress passed the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF),[16] which gave the President authority to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against those who committed and aided the September 11 attacks. While this power has been rarely used to detain persons in the United States, Smith introduced a bill to ensure that any individual detained on U.S. soil under the AUMF has access to due process and the federal court system.[17] The bill also prohibits military commissions and indefinite detention for individuals detained in the United States and affirms that any trial proceedings “shall have all the due process as provided for under the Constitution.”

Smith co-sponsored, with Republican congressman Mac Thornberry, an amendment to the fiscal 2013 defense spending bill reversing previous bans on disseminating Defense and State Department propaganda in the United States, reversing the Smith–Mundt Act of 1948 and the Foreign Relations Authorization Act of 1987, designed to protect U.S. audiences from government misinformation campaigns.[18] The bill passed on May 18, 2012, 299 to 120.[19]


Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Personal life[edit]

In 1993, Adam married Spokane native Sara Bickle-Eldridge, a graduate of the University of Washington and Seattle University School of Law. Their daughter, Kendall, was born in July 2000, followed by their son, Jack, in June 2003.[30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "U.S. Congressman Adam Smith biography". Office of U.S. Congressman Adam Smith. Archived from the original on September 7, 2014. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
  2. ^ "Adam Smith ancestry". Archived from the original on October 18, 2015. Retrieved September 6, 2014.
  3. ^ "Remarks by Representative Adam Smith (D-WA) at the Democratic National Convention, July 27, 2004," where he said: "It was only because of my father's union and the benefits he had worked a lifetime to secure that my family could continue to pay the bills so that I could finish my education." [1][permanent dead link]
  4. ^ "Re-elect U.S. Rep. Adam Smith in Washington's 9th Congressional District". Seattle Times. July 23, 2012. Retrieved October 5, 2012.
  5. ^ "Members". New Democrat Coalition. Archived from the original on February 8, 2018. Retrieved February 5, 2018.
  6. ^ a b "H.J.Res. 114 (107th): Authorization for Use of Military Force Against ... -- House Vote #455 -- Oct 10, 2002".
  7. ^ "U.S. Rep. Adam Smith joins calls to bring troops home from Afghanistan". The News Tribune. March 20, 2012. Archived from the original on June 12, 2012. Retrieved October 5, 2012.
  8. ^ "2006 General Election Results". Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved January 6, 2012.
  9. ^ Connelly, Joel (April 12, 2007). "Obama lands a key backer in Adam Smith". Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  10. ^ "GovTrack: House Vote On Passage: S. 1927 [110th]: Protect America Act of 2007". August 4, 2007. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  11. ^ "Adam Smith (D-Wash.)". The Washington Post. July 23, 2012. Retrieved October 5, 2012.
  12. ^ "Local and National Election Results - Election Center 2008 - Elections & Politics from". Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  13. ^ "Adam Smith wins Armed Services post - Jen DiMascio". Politico.Com. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  14. ^ "Congressman Adam Smith Joins The Borgen Project". August 21, 2011. Retrieved January 5, 2012.
  15. ^ "Funding cuts jeopardize nuclear non-proliferation". The Hill. March 1, 2011. Retrieved October 5, 2012.
  16. ^ "County Commissioners hear from Concerned Citizens". March 19, 2012. Retrieved March 19, 2012.
  17. ^ Song, Kyung M. (March 13, 2012). "Smith proposes bill seeking to try terror suspects in civilian courts". Archived from the original on July 16, 2012. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  18. ^ "Congressmen Seek To Lift Propaganda Ban". BuzzFeed News.
  19. ^ Pincus, Walter (May 19, 2012). "National Security". The Washington Post.
  20. ^
  21. ^ Thornberry, Mac (May 10, 2012). "H.R.5736 - 112th Congress (2011-2012): Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012".
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Our Members". U.S. House of Representatives International Conservation Caucus. Archived from the original on August 1, 2018. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  24. ^ "Leadership | New Democrat Coalition". Retrieved August 1, 2019.
  25. ^ "Caucus Members". Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  26. ^ "Membership". Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved March 23, 2018.
  27. ^ "Members". Afterschool Alliance. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  28. ^ "Members". Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus. Retrieved May 17, 2018.
  29. ^ "Members". U.S. - Japan Caucus. Retrieved January 9, 2019.
  30. ^ "Biography". Congressman Adam Smith. Retrieved June 3, 2021.


  • The Almanac of American Politics 2004. Washington, D.C.: National Journal, 2003.
  • Pierce County Official Local Voters' Pamphlet (Pierce County Auditor, 2012).

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Randy Tate
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Washington's 9th congressional district

Preceded by
Mac Thornberry
Chair of the House Armed Services Committee
Party political offices
Preceded by
Cal Dooley
Jim Moran
Tim Roemer
Chair of the New Democrat Coalition
Served alongside: Jim Davis, Ron Kind
Succeeded by
Ellen Tauscher
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Brad Sherman
United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Gregory Meeks