At a time when most Americans are looking to the scandals of the IRS and Benghazi, Missourians have been focusing their political eye to Southeast Missouri to a special election that was very contested. When nine-term elected congresswoman Jo Ann Emerson announced her resignation from US Congress just shortly after winning her re-election of the 8th Congressional seat in Missouri in November of 2012, many politicians jumped at the chance in order to snag her seat in the southeast Missouri district. Jo Ann resigned in order to take the position of CEO of the National Rural Election Cooperative Association in Washington DC. I actually was able to have attend dinner with Jo Ann the week before the special election to fill her Congressional seat and she commented that the only job she would have ever left Congress for would be to be the CEO of the NRECA, an organization that she has great pride and confidence in. She also commented that Congress just isn’t the same as it was these 8+ terms ago when she was first elected, she felt it was time to step aside and try something new.

After months of campaigning to the 8th Congressional District Committees on both the Democratic and Republican sides, there emerged two contestants for the June 4th special election: Republican Jason Smith vs Democrat Steve Hodges. Over eight people were attempting to get the highly-competitive Republican nomination including Lt. Governor Peter Kinder and other former statesmen in the area. In the end, Jason Smith–farmer, attorney, and real-estate agent from Missouri—was the elected candidate for the job and he started his campaign as soon as he could.

Smith is used to special elections, where he ran his first campaign for the Missouri House of Representatives after a former representative, Frank Barnitz, resigned his seat in the Missouri House in 2005. Even at the young age of 32 he quickly climbed up the leadership ladder to attain the position of Speaker Pro Tempore of the Missouri House of Representatives. And now, as of 4:32 p.m. on June 5th, he is an official United States Congressman. As a “Commonsense-Conservative,” Smith said that he will be in favor of passing a balanced budget amendment, a strong opponent of the extreme liberal agenda and and advocate for repealing the federal health care law once he is in Congress.

A large part of the style of this campaign was done by targeting houses that are traditionally Republican voters, and making phone calls to as many people in the area to get out the vote. Smith also participated in a debate against Hodges the Wednesday before the election the following week. After months of campaigning and pushing for a high-voter turnout in the traditionally Republican area, Jason Smith ran away with 67% of the votes on the Tuesday election. Jason Smith even had the highest percentage in votes out the Republican majority percentage in years–even beating Mitt Romney’s supermajority of votes with 66% in the 2012 Missouri general election. In a rally on the Saturday preceding the election Jason Smith talked about how his campaign has always been ahead of Hodge’s campaign. They put out signs two weeks before Hodges, made more calls than hodges, and started broadcasting TV commercials before Hodges.

United States Senator Roy Blunt (R) of Missouri commented that he expects the Missouri delegation to help him make the transition. He said, “The campaign’s over and now he’s the congressman in the 8th District and I think our whole delegation will be looking for ways they can help him.”

Smith said after his election win, “I don’t come from a family of a lot, but we’ve learned a lot of lessons. This is too good – a country boy from Dent County is going to Washington.”


Lindsey Kolb | Missouri State University | @Lindsey_Kolb