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Top 10 8th District Congressional Candidates 12.10.12 Edition

December 09, 2012 / by / 0 Comment

We will be updating our top 10 candidates for the 8th district periodically as we get closer to the committee meeting. As you can see the list has changed a great deal this week and we look for it to evolve, as we get closer to the meeting.

Here is this week’s list.

1. Lt. Governor Peter Kinder  

Cape Girardeau

3 Terms in the Missouri Senate 3 Terms as Lt. Governor Former Campaign Manger for Bill Emerson

It seems like the first turn in this race will be determined when it is decided how a vacancy in the Lt. Governor’s office would be filled. If it is decided that Governor Nixon would appoint Kinder’s successor then look for Kinder to bow out and look to become Governor Nixon’s successor in 2016. If people involved in the process settle it in their minds that there would be a special election then Kinder quickly becomes the favorite.

We understand that Kinder has an inside track with the Jefferson County Republicans, many Farm Bureau members thanks to Charlie Kruse, and would hold many Cape County votes…if he is free to run of course.

Odds: 1 in 3 if the Lt. Governor’s seat remains vacant

1 in 5 if it is decided by a special election.

1 in 8 if its still undecided by the meeting.

1 in 25 if it’s a gubernatorial appointment. 

2. State Representative Jason Smith


3 Terms in the Missouri House, set to be Speaker Pro Tem in the next session of the General Assembly

Smith is set to become the Speaker Pro Tem in the next session in the General Assembly, and has very good relationships with Republicans in the western portion of the district. Smith is known for deeply engaging on rural issues.  He has been a good fundraiser and is close to many of the key people in and around Emerson’s circle of closest supporters.

Smith’s name has been gaining traction among many big names in Jefferson City and St. Louis. One concern with Smith is that he would have a small geographic base and could face a competitive primary from a Cape Girardeau County candidate in 2014. However, he would have a year and half in office to build relationships and it is thought if he did receive the nomination he would do so by being Emerson’s choice and she would likely help establish those ties. He has told some he has an agreement with Steelman about supporting him dating back to her campaign for Senate. That agreement is disputed by the Steelman campaign.

Odds: 1 in 5

3. Political Staffer Loyd Smith

Jefferson City

Former Emerson Staffer and current MRP Staffer

No one is benefiting from the uncertainty around Kinder’s status more than the former Emerson staffer and current Missouri Republican Party staffer.  Some of the older and more liberal members of the committee seem to be willing to overlook some of the sleaze in his shady dealings in Sikeston and are willing to settle for less with their choice of a former government employee. However, serving in Congress would greatly increase his federal government pension.

Smith could pick the carcass of a Kinder effort that stalls out over questions surrounding the Lt. Governor vacancy issue.  One county vice-chairperson from the western side of the district says that their county’s delegation will walk out of the meeting if the liberals and moderates on the committee attempt to force Smith’s nomination though. His active role in the plan to take out two conservative republican state senators (Jane Cunningham and Jim Lembke) via redistricting have gained him many enemies in conservative ranks.

Odds: 1 in 8

4. State Representative Todd Richardson

Poplar Bluff

1 Term in the Missouri House

Richardson is an up and coming star in the General Assembly. He is in the hunt for the Speaker’s gavel, and many believe he is likely to have the potential for higher office. Richardson has proven to be a solid fundraiser and impressed many in his first term in the House. It could be in his blood as the son of former Minority Leader Mark Richardson.

Richardson may be the most articulate candidate in the field, and if it comes down to speeches before the committee or meetings in living rooms then he could have an advantage.  However, his effort could suffer as Representative Smith’s has from the growing number of candidates from his home area.

Odds: 1 in 8

5. State Senator Jason Crowell

Cape Girardeau

2 Terms in the Missouri Senate 4 Term in the Missouri House

Crowell owns the mantle as the most conservative person being discussed. He also has the mantle as most cantankerous. If this were a primary he might be at the top of the list, but his relationship with Emerson he could be a top reason there will be no open primary for this seat. Crowell has reels of press clippings of him taking on the Republican establishment in support of conservative causes. He is hated by the establishment, but loved by the grass roots conservatives.

If Emerson decides to exert influence on this race Crowell won’t be selected. If the MOGOP is able to exert any influence on the race Crowell won’t be selected. If the moderate Republicans from the north end of the district become the key swing votes in the race, Crowell won’t be selected. If establishment Republicans decide the race Crowell won’t be selected. However, some of these chairs aren’t establishment types. If a conservative rebellion against the moderate/liberal establishment ensues …… then Crowell could be selected.

If Smith is the nominee Crowell seems like a sure fire primary candidate in 2014, but if no other Cape Girardeau candidate makes it to the nominating meeting 2013 could be his year. Congressman Crowell ……. and John Boehner thinks arguing with Barack Obama is a pain.

Odds: 1 in 10

6. 8th District Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Eddy Justice

Poplar Bluff

8th District Chairman, Butler County Republican Central Committee Chairman, Member of the Congressional Redistricting Committee

Justice knows this committee better than anyone else on the list. He is also well respected by most every faction on the committee.  There are certain segments of the committee that would likely prefer someone without experience in elected office, but that they already know. Enter Justice.

Who knows where this process ends up, but after speaking with many committee members from around the district Justice is a name that comes up without prompting, and as other candidates drop out his odds could improve.

Odds: 1 in 12

7. Former State Treasurer Sarah Steelman


2 Terms in the Missouri Senate 1 Term as Missouri State Treasurer

Steelman seems to be maintaining her base of support around Phelps County, but the candidacies of Representative Smith and Senator Brown are dividing her natural support. That combined with the fact that there is no love lost between Steelman and Emerson is complicating her run. She may be many delegates 2nd choice and after their favorite sons fall out her position will likely improve.

Steelman is broadly known throughout the district, and could self fund a race this spring against a democrat. While some may criticize a few of her position on labor issues Steelman has many deep relationships in local Republican organizations from the Missouri Constitutional Amendment on Gay Marriage that she sponsored. However, she is unlikely to receive any help from the Emerson operation.

Odds: 1 in 14

8. State Senator Kevin Engler


2 Terms in the Missouri Senate 2 Terms in the Missouri House Former Mayor of Farmington

In short, Engler would be a general election rock star, but this isn’t a general election, or even a primary.

Engler surprised many with his decision to run for election in the House after serving 8 years in the Senate. Well it could be he was waiting for an opportunity such as this to present itself. If who would fare best in a general election was a consideration here Engler would be higher on the list, but this is a selection by a county committee. Engler has been known as a very productive pragmatic Senator, but that has come with the cost of angering some on the right on abortion and union issues.

Engler could very well be a kingmaker in this fight and the sheer force of his personality is likely to keep the votes in his area of the district loyal to him, but that may not be enough to win. One angle he could exploit would be appealing to Emerson for help because of their similar positions on labor issues. While she told reporters last week she would have no role in picking her successor, that is hard to completely fathom.

Odds: 1 in 15

9. State Representative Steve Cookson

Poplar Bluff/Doniphan

1 Term in the Missouri House

Cookson has garnered a reputation as a staunch conservative. His introduction of a “Don’t Say Gay” bill last session earned him the admiration of social conservatives throughout the district. One other note he has several family members on the committee and throughout the 8th district.

Cookson has told some of his supporters that he has up to 12-15 committed votes for the nomination. His candidacy complicates other’s bids quite a bit, and if his head count is accurate he could be a king-maker.

Odds: 1 in 20

10. State Senator Dan Brown


1st Term as State Senator

Dan Brown is an outspoken conservative who is part of the group of senators to install Senator Richard as majority leader. Brown is a veterinarian who is well thought of in southeast Missouri conservative ranks.

Brown began floating his name for nomination in the middle of last week. His candidacy complicates Jason Smith and Sarah Steelman’s runs quite a bit

Odds: 1 in 25

Others being mentioned

Mike Kehoe, State Senator – Kehoe is a former Highway Commissioner and sitting Senator. While he isn’t well known in the district, he has the resources to become known quickly, and would be a stellar candidate.

Tom Schulte, former aide to Senators Bond, Ashcroft, Talent and now Blunt – He has been described as the best federal employee since George Washington. He is loved by all of the locals, but hasn’t made any intention to run known.

Russ Oliver, Stoddard County Prosecuting Attorney – It seems this opportunity comes too soon for this rising star in the area Republican party. He is an up and comer that anyone who wins the nomination will want on their team.

Doug Libla, State Senator – Ooooh if it was only two years from now, or even one year. Libla would be the hottest name on the list, but being that he hasn’t even been sworn in yet the timing would be very tough.  However, he could self fund and did make a lot of contacts as the redistricting roller coaster took him to Dent and Howell counties as well as the district he will represent starting in January.

Clint Tracy, Cape Girardeau County Presiding Commissioner – Tracy has served in the House and is well known in Cape County. Many feel he would give way to Kinder, but if he chose to stick in the race could become a force. There are concerns that Nixon would certainly appoint a democrat to succeed him as Presiding Commissioner.

Chuck Purgason, former member of the state house and senate – If his brand of firebrand conservatism were going to catch fire it would have likely been during his 2010 U.S. Senate primary against Roy Blunt.

Ward Franz, State Representative – But for a few hundred votes in Ripley County Franz would be near the top of this list. We’ve heard don’t count Franz completely out of a future run for office, but the timing is most likely wrong now.

Rob Mayer, Senate President Pro Tem – If Libla wishes it was two years from now Mayer has to with it was two years ago.  The timing is simply wrong for Mayer. He just won a judgeship by a landslide and it seems that his window for running for Congress was either last cycle or after a term as judge. He will be hamstrung from actively campaigning for the seat once he is sworn in at the first of the year, and that could debilitate his chances.  The irony is that outside of the timing Mayer would be a perfect candidate.

Those who are out:

Steve Tilley, former House Speaker – Tilley would have been the perfect candidate, for Governor, Senator, Congress fill in the blank. Only one problem, he doesn’t

Steve Tilley with his daughters.

want to run for office at this point in his life.

Rod Jetton, former House Speaker – He has left elective politics and is now the owner of the Missouri Political Bug and his new business ventures would prohibit him from re-entering public life.

Josh Haynes, Chief of Staff to Jo Ann Emerson – Haynes appears content to be king maker. Anyone who wins this nomination will make Haynes their first call.

John Jordan, Cape Girardeau County Sheriff – He was floating his name, but would be unlikely to get the committee to recommend him. He would be very strong in a primary as the only Cape Girardeau County candidate. He seems out of the running for the nomination.