Bios: The top three candidates identified by 8th District GOP committee members

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The following are short biographies of the top three candidates identified in a Southeast Missourian poll of the Republican 8th District Congressional Committee. For more on the poll read "Character, policy among top factors for GOP panel" by clicking on the "related link" on this page.

Jason Smith

Missouri House Speaker Pro Tem Jason Smith speaks during the 8th Congressional District Candidate Forum sponsored by the Southeast Missouri Pachyderm Club Thursday Jan. 17, at the Concourse building in Cape Girardeau. (ADAM VOGLER)

At 32, Smith is among the youngest candidates in the field -- but well known as he now serves as the Missouri House of Representatives' Speaker Pro Tem.

Smith was elected in 2005 to represent the 120th House district, which covers parts of Crawford and Phelps counties.

A bill recently filed by Smith that would change how the state handles vacancies in statewide offices by requiring a special election has brought him more attention recently. He also is known to have met with most, if not all, committee members since Emerson announced her resignation, and according to several on the committee, made strong showings when touting conservative positions at two public candidate forums. Smith has a law degree from Oklahoma City University School of Law, bachelor's degrees in agricultural economics and business administration, and he manages a family farm in Salem, Mo.

Lloyd Smith

Lloyd Smith, former executive director of the Missouri Republican Party, speaks during the 8th Congressional District Candidate Forum sponsored by the Southeast Missouri Pachyderm Club Thursday Jan. 17, at the Concourse building in Cape Girardeau. (ADAM VOGLER)

Smith's connection to the Emersons goes back decades -- Jo Ann Emerson has said his name is "inseparable" from her service in Congress and that of her late husband, Bill Emerson, who represented the 8th District from 1981 until his death in 1996.

Smith, originally from East Prairie, Mo., calls Sikeston, Mo., home. He served as chief of staff for both the Emersons before becoming executive director of the Missouri Republican Party in 2009, but resigned from the post last month to turn his focus to his bid for the nomination. Background includes work for the campaigns of former Sen. Jim Talent and President George W. Bush. Committee members who support Smith say they feel no other candidate can provide a smoother transition into Congress after the departure of Jo Ann Emerson, and that Smith is someone they know they can trust to carry on a tradition of good constituent services in the district.

Peter Kinder

Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder speaks during the 8th Congressional District Candidate Forum sponsored by the Southeast Missouri Pachyderm Club Thursday Jan. 17, at the Concourse building in Cape Girardeau. (ADAM VOGLER)

A Cape Girardeau native, Kinder, 58, is serving a third term as Missouri's lieutenant governor. That follows 12 years of service in the Missouri Senate, where he was elected president pro tem.

In 2008, Kinder was the only Republican to win statewide office when all others went to Democrats. He also has been a key potential Republican gubernatorial candidate.

Kinder has pointed several times to his ability to get re-elected. In the most recent election, he carried 108 of the state's 114 counties. Supporters like his educated approach to policy-related questions and his way of keeping a reserved demeanor while delivering strong rhetoric.

Kinder acted as campaign manager for Bill Emerson, who ran for Congress in 1980 and won -- the first time since 1928 a Republican was able to win the 8th District seat.

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