Mo. GOP searching nationwide for new director

Thursday, January 17, 2013
GOP candidate Lloyd Smith speaks during Thursday night's 8th District Congressional Committee's candidate forum in Salem, Mo. (Laura Simon)

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- The chairman of the Missouri Republican Party is conducting a nationwide search for a new executive director. Republican chairman Ed Martin said Wednesday that he's already received resumes from people in Virginia and New Mexico and is looking for whoever is best suited to serve as party CEO -- even if that person is from outside Missouri.

Lloyd Smith stepped down Tuesday after four years as executive director of the state Republican Party. Smith said in a letter to other Republican leaders that he wants to focus on his bid to succeed U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson in Southeast Missouri's 8th Congressional District.

"I have a new opportunity to serve the congressional district that I love," Smith said in the letter. "This campaign will require my full attention, so Tuesday, January 15, will be my final day as executive director."

Smith, who announced in December his intention to run for the congressional seat, also said he is pledged to do whatever he can to ensure a smooth and successful transition.

During a telephone interview, Smith said campaigning for Congress full time will be exciting for him.

"It's an interesting process," he said. "I'm also excited about the potential opportunity to meet all members of the committee that will pick the Republican nominee. I hope that will be something good for not only my campaign but also the Republican Party."

Emerson will resign from Congress soon to become president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Her successor will be selected in a special election, with voters choosing from candidates selected by party committees.

Republican 8th District Committee chairman Eddy Justice said handicapping the chances for Smith or any other candidate would be pure speculation at this point. He said Smith is one of several strong conservatives seeking the nomination.

Party committees will meet after Emerson's resignation. Thus far the Democratic committee has been largely silent on its selection process, while Republicans have been more open. Twelve Republican candidates were invited to speak at a forum at 7 p.m. today at the Concourse Building, 429 N. Broadview St.

Staff writer Keith Lewis and managing editor Matt Sanders contributed to this report.

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