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Hodges tapped as Democratic nominee in 8th District

Sunday, February 17, 2013

State Rep. Steve Hodges of East Prairie, Mo. speaks after receiving the nomination of the Democratic 8th District Congressional Committee after the first round of voting Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013 in Poplar Bluff, Mo. Hodges will run in a June special election that will decide who will replace U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson.
(Fred Lynch)
The Democratic Party's man in Southeast Missouri is state Rep. Steve Hodges.

Hodges, a conservative Democrat from East Prairie, Mo., who said he's not a Republican because he has a "social conscience," won after only one round of voting at the Democratic 8th District selection committee's meeting Saturday.

Hodges earned 39 votes, De Soto, Mo., funeral home director Todd Mahn received 27 votes, and former Blodgett, Mo., mayor Markel Fitchpatrick garnered two votes.

With a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, the selection committee kicked off its nominating meeting, capping days of shifts in the candidate list that saw one state representative drop out and another one enter the race.

In the end, it was Hodges who was selected to run under his party's banner in a June 4 special election to replace former U.S. representative Jo Ann Emerson, who resigned last month to become president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

"This is very humbling," Hodges said after winning the nomination. "In politics there are only winners and losers, and I hope to give you folks a winner."

Hodges, 64, a former grocery store owner, represents the 149th District in the Missouri House, which covers most of Mississippi County, about half of Sikeston, Mo., in Scott County, all of New Madrid County and the northern part of Pemiscot County. Described as a conservative Democrat because of his position against abortion -- though Republicans point out he recently lost an endorsement from Missouri Right to Life -- and his support of gun rights, he hopes that his race against the Republican nominee, Missouri House Speaker Pro Tem Jason Smith, will be civil.

"Jason Smith and I were friends before this race started and I hope it stays that way," Hodges said. "That's how I was raised."

Libertarians selected their nominee, Bill Slantz, Feb. 9. Independent candidates also have time to enter the race if they can gather the required petition signatures.

Hodges was the last to enter the campaign for the Democratic nomination, announcing his decision Wednesday.

"I know I got into the race late," he said. "But I don't want to do anything unless I do it right. But I'm here at the right time, and I can beat Jason Smith in June."

The selection followed opening speeches, a question-and-answer session and a round of closing speeches by each candidate.

Mahn, saying the "national spotlight for the next four months is on the 8th District," pledged to work to create more and better jobs in the district. Mahn also had harsh words for the state of the district's economy since Republication representation began in 1981.

"I would be appalled if I were the Emersons and left the 8th District as the poorest in the state," he said.

Markel Fitchpatrick stressed "the Christian way is taking care of your neighbor," in a speech that also talked about the need to address poverty. "I've seen factories close in Kennett, Charleston, Poplar Bluff, Chaffee," Fitchpatrick said, stressing that people should buy American-made products and advocating tariffs on cheap imported goods.

Hodges said his hometown of East Prairie "is not a town of prosperity," referencing factory closings.

The poverty in the 8th District was an overriding theme with the candidates.

During a question-and-answer session, Hodges praised Jo Ann Emerson and her late husband Bill Emerson, who represented the district from 1981 to his 1996 death, as advocates for labor and agriculture. He touted his service on agricultural committees in Jefferson City, Mo., and also voiced support for Jo Ann Emerson's vote in support of "fiscal cliff" legislation in the face of Republican opposition.

All three candidates positioned themselves as conservative Democrats. Mahn said he opposes higher taxes, Fitchpatrick advocated the use of more coal to cheapen electricity and boost the economy; and Hodges stressed his conservative credentials throughout. Fitchpatrick even advocated the use of corporal punishment in schools to improve student performance.

Hodges, like Mahn and Fitchpatrick, opposed the use of vouchers as a way to improve public schools in the 8th District.

"School vouchers? No. They are bad for rural Missouri," he said to applause.

While the candidates agreed on many policy issues, it was experience that won the day. Hodges was the only candidate with time in state government on his record.

Mike Masterson, chairman of the Cape Girardeau Democratic Party, said a good choice had been made with Hodges.

"He's a conservative Democrat," Masterson said. "We can match our competition one on one."

The Democratic field for the nomination was trimmed before voting began Saturday when chiropractor Jack Rushin dropped out of the race, citing the need to spend time with his family.

State Rep. Linda Black, D-Bonne Terre, Mo., dropped out of the race Thursday.

Fitchpatrick, the third-place finisher for the nomination, said he will support Hodges.

"I'll make myself available to work for him and speak for him anytime," Fitchpatrick said.

Todd Mahn, second-place finisher, was more reserved about his support.

"I'm going to take some time and think about things before I make a decision," Mahn said.





Pertinent address:

2750 N. Westwood Blvd., Poplar Bluff, Mo.

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Thanks for the good coverage and timliness ...

-- Posted by Rabbi Eukel on Sat, Feb 16, 2013, at 2:57 PM

Why aren't we voting in April?

-- Posted by SamTheEagle on Sat, Feb 16, 2013, at 3:39 PM

Congrats Steve.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Sat, Feb 16, 2013, at 4:13 PM

What's the difference between a moderate Republican and a conservative "Dixiecrat"?

-- Posted by LibertyNeverDies on Sat, Feb 16, 2013, at 4:31 PM

Can you guys at least attempt to be journalists? A right wing rag is a right wing rag, but good lord. You're probably not getting paid much so at least try to write objective articles. Getting canned by your employer probably wouldn't hurt you. There are other jobs out there.

-- Posted by Ck1993 on Sat, Feb 16, 2013, at 6:00 PM

Steve Hodges is a true man of the people. He retired after owning a grocery store, and wanted to do something to help the folks. He has been an outstanding lawmaker, is devastatingly honest. Could not be a better choice. I am an independent, and work with some good Republicans as well, including Wayne Wallingford.

-- Posted by wrcactus on Sat, Feb 16, 2013, at 6:04 PM

I'm willing to give a man who made his own way in this world a shot in DC over one who has never had a real job in his life, especially if he's been proven to stand up the the national dems on right to life, and has defended our 2nd amendment rights in our state house and will commit to do likewise in Washington, and claims to be against free trade. If he's for right to work in Missouri then that's icing on the cake. I'd like to know more about Mr. Hodges. I doubt he's too well known outside his district, I'd never heard of him prior to a few weeks ago. I'd hope the Missourian and it's affiliates will work to flush out more of where Mr. Hodges stands on issues important to us here in Southern Missouri.

-- Posted by LibertyNeverDies on Sat, Feb 16, 2013, at 6:17 PM

What's the difference between a moderate Republican and a conservative "Dixiecrat"?

-- Posted by LibertyNeverDies on Sat, Feb 16, 2013, at 4:31 PM

Answer: A Repubcrat and you will see it in this election.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Sat, Feb 16, 2013, at 6:24 PM

Steve hodges will be a wonderful spokesman for Missouri!

-- Posted by LiberalDemocrat on Sat, Feb 16, 2013, at 9:35 PM

"well, we're halfway there! we have a fine democrat in the race! we need a radical liberal but for now; we're halfway there!"...;-)

-- Posted by tennisnut on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 6:06 AM

Did the dem committee ever fix their discrimination against women problem on the committee? The law says they can't have man filling both the seats from one county and they were doing it in more than one county.

-- Posted by bionicrotor on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 7:59 AM

How many counties went completely and totally unrepresented without a single vote to in the republican nomination again? What was it two, three, or four? How many people live in those counties?

-- Posted by LibertyNeverDies on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 9:37 AM

How can you be against abortion and a Dem?

-- Posted by jackson88parent on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 9:47 AM

Is abortion really an issue anymore? I mean, I know Wayne Wallingford and Branum ran smear campaigns on who was the most against abortion but its 2013.

Good luck Steve. He's a good humble guy.

-- Posted by leaky_pen on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 10:32 AM

How can you be against abortion and a Dem?

-- Posted by jcjayof61

Normally, I'd tend to agree with you jc, but after reviewing Hodges's record since he was nominated yesterday it seems he is against abortion.

He appears to be a true conservative "Dixie"crat which would be to liberal dems, what liberty republicans are to their establishment party faithful.

-- Posted by LibertyNeverDies on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 11:01 AM

Just because you are a democrat does not mean you are part of the left wing of the party or a liberal. Many people have that mixed up. The southern conservative dixiecrats are coming back because they are fed up with the take over by the far left wing of the Modern Day Democratic party of today coming out of the northeast and the west coast. Steve Hodges is a dixiecrat from the south and a good man.

-- Posted by swampeastmissouri on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 11:24 AM

We have tendencies to put labels on these politicians and expect them to act accordingly. I hope that he/she will examine all the elements of any issue and do what is best for the country rather than what is their party's philosophy. Therefore, I don't fault any that will admit that their beliefs evolve as truths emerge. I know mine have.

I'd like to see more moderate candidates right now come forward.

-- Posted by 1patriot on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 12:09 PM

I've known Steve Hodges for years. He is capable, conscientious, sincere and utterly honest.

We can choose someone to represent us in the U.S. House who has raised a family and made his way in life as a successful businessman. Someone who knows and shares our values.

For me the choice is clear. Steve Hodges is the right man for the job.

-- Posted by Hominy on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 3:32 PM

Who are the "Important people involved in the political process." that encouraged Mr.Hodges to enter the race? Transparency?

-- Posted by TheCamp on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 4:19 PM

What were the subject of the 4 meetings Jason Smith had with Jo Ann Emerson in Washington DC prior to her announcing her resignation?

What deal was cut with Sarah Steelman the day before the Republican Nomination to get her to withdraw from the race?

Sarah likely would have eaten into Smith's early lead in the process had she stayed in. She is a tea party darling and a favorite among conservatives who is from Smith's area.

I guess we all have questions to pose.

-- Posted by LibertyNeverDies on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 6:26 PM

LibertyNeverDies: sweet.

-- Posted by CSP on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 8:03 PM

I vote for many more Republicans than Democrats, but I can honestly say that there is no doubt in my

mind about this one. I visited our Capitol several times over the past few years. Each time, Steve Hodges madd time in his schedule to meet with us. Even though I was not his constituent, i found him to be interested in representing all of the people of Southeast Missouri. Steve Hodges is a down-to-earth honest man from a small town with conservative values. He and his wife are among the most gracious of people I have met. While I will be sorry to lose his no-nonsense approach for promoting our values in Jefferson City now that new boundary lined have made me his constituent, we need someone in Washington that will stand up for common sense and decency. If you haven't heard of Steve Hodges, you need to take the time to find out more. He is a good man.

-- Posted by RedBlackDawg on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 8:03 PM

So what is "Social Conscience"?

-- Posted by rbaylor001 on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 10:05 PM

Posted in the comments on the article,

"Jason Smith touts record, district needs "

linked here http://www.semissourian.com/story/194066...

"i wish the article would say how we could send jason money; does his campaign have a web site?"

-- Posted by CSP on Wed, Feb 13, 2013, at 4:32 PM

CSP: sweeter

-- Posted by LibertyNeverDies on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 10:17 PM

Who would you vote for, Steve, for Speaker, Nancy Pelosi?

-- Posted by tom on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 10:32 PM

Silly Tom, you know, or should know the dems are in the minority in the house. That's not likely to change anytime soon with Obama in office. Besides anyone can be elected speaker. You don't even have to be a member of the House. How about Judge Napolitano?

-- Posted by LibertyNeverDies on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 10:50 PM

The point is that Steve Hodges, if elected, despite calling himself a conservative Democrat, may feel compelled to sell out to and vote with the far left fringe leadership, whoever that may be. A Republican majority in the House is certainly not a sure thing.

-- Posted by tom on Sun, Feb 17, 2013, at 11:09 PM


-- Posted by nolimitsonthought on Mon, Feb 18, 2013, at 7:22 AM

tom touches on the salient issue here. Mr. Hodges may be a decent guy, he may be on the right side of the abortion and gun rights issues, but the bottom line is, if elected, he would be caucusing with the Democrats, who aren't about to advance any conservative ideas. Like it or not, Congress consists of two opposing parties, and one must consider this when voting. If Mr. Hodges is truly conservative, he should switch to the party which more closely reflects this. I can think of no good reason why a conservative would be a Democrat, nor a liberal a Republican (yet we have them).

-- Posted by Mark Rutledge on Mon, Feb 18, 2013, at 10:27 AM

For those of you commenting about Sarah Steelman. She did not drop out of the race to help anyone. She had no support at all. She dropped out because she was going to lose and maybe get five votes or less.

-- Posted by missouri21 on Mon, Feb 18, 2013, at 10:48 AM

Mark: It doesn't matter what party a person belomgs to, it's how they vote that matters. I would venture to guess that Hodges has a better conservative voting record than JoAnn Emerson. For example she would meet and praise the farmers and then go back to DC and vote against them. She voted for Cash for Clunkers, bailouts of the banks and car industry and I believe supported embryo stem cell research. I may be wrong on some of these issues, but not all. So, you see party affiliation sometimes means nothing.

-- Posted by left turn on Mon, Feb 18, 2013, at 11:44 AM

Shortly after the election of Hodges, Mr Mahn posted an offensive letter to his supporters on his facebook page. After reading though the spelling and grammer errors, Mr. Mahn believes that somehow, Mr Hodges' nomination was a "...sad day in American History and politics." and accussing "dirty politics" as the reason he failed to get the nod to run as the Democratic canidate for the 8th. Mr Mahn goes on to explain that his son took notes and that Mr Mahn was proud of his son for the 12 year-old's participation. Maybe, Mr Mahn's son would have been better served if he had the opportunity to watch is father face losing with grace and dignity, rather than a performance of the worst of the losers, that of claiming those good people who had taken their time away from their homes and families, traveled great distances, were part of an evil conspiracy directed at his father. How sad for that poor boy.

-- Posted by clubman on Mon, Feb 18, 2013, at 11:58 AM

As I recall the day and the votes, 5 votes, if your assessment is correct which I doubt, and she maintained them, would have kept Steelman in play until the fourth round of voting. Hummm...

Sarah's family has long been a multi generational player in Missouri politics. Look for another Steelman to be entering into Missouri politics in the not so distant future since her two oldest sons are waiting in wings. One recently graduated Drury University and the other will graduate from the University of Chicago this year. The oldest even managed Sarah's Senatorial primary campaign.

My guess is when either Steelman heir apparent makes up their mind to toss their hat in the ring they'll be able to count on the full support of Jason Smith to do what's necessary to get them in office. Pretty sweet payback for five highly coveted votes, likely more in my opinion but why quibble?

-- Posted by LibertyNeverDies on Mon, Feb 18, 2013, at 12:22 PM

clubman: I can't seem to find Mahn's comments on facebook. Can you provide me with the correct wording. Thanks

-- Posted by left turn on Mon, Feb 18, 2013, at 12:38 PM

Leftturn, here is the post.

"Yesterday was a sad day in American History and politics. It appeared that a back room decision had already been made to go with a Candidate that had only put his name in the hat 2 dates prior to yesterday's meeting. I've worked very hard to be the voice of the 1.46 million working class poor and the 50 million people on government assistants my hope was yesterday that we would move in the direction of getting people off these two categories. I brought my son for him to see how a democracy works. Not dirty politics!! But I was most proud of him yesterday. I got home and found out that he had taken notes on his own of comments the other candidates had made that didn't make sense. He is only 12 but I'm very proud of this young man. I will take this week with my family and supporters and de ice whats next. I may run as a Independent. This Country needs leadership and it needs leadership NOW!!! Thank you for all your support. May God Bless you and May God Bless the United States of America. Todd Mahn"

-- Posted by clubman on Mon, Feb 18, 2013, at 1:04 PM

left turn, you couldn't be more wrong. Do you understand the role of the Whip in congressional delegations?

-- Posted by Mark Rutledge on Tue, Feb 19, 2013, at 8:09 AM

Mark: I certainly do understand the role of the whip. However, it appears the repub whip didn't work to well with JoAnn on some major issues. She voted like a democrat plain and simple. And the repubs in this area loved her.

-- Posted by left turn on Tue, Feb 19, 2013, at 8:33 AM

Hey everyone ! Go to www.alecexposed.org and read the playbook for Jason Smith's philosophy.

He and Speaker Tim Jones are the co-chairs of the Missouri delegation to ALEC, American Legislative Exchange Council

ALEC is the well-funded "model bill" factory where legislators are wined and dined by corporate lobbyists and head honchos at luxurious resorts. They are the "free market" extremists who want to privatize ALL public programs including public education. Please look up www.alecexposed.org, a site belonging to the Center for Media and Democracy. Smith said he doesn't believe in giving rich people's money to poor people. That's right out of the ALEC playbook. Sadly, the folks in the 8th district will elect this man who will do everything in his power to make their lives even more miserable.

-- Posted by Sarah Jo on Tue, Feb 19, 2013, at 8:34 AM

Sarah Jo: Also, if you look on ALEC site you can find which Missouri legislators belong to ALEC. I wondered when someone was going to point out his affiliation with that organization.

-- Posted by left turn on Tue, Feb 19, 2013, at 9:43 AM

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Steve Hodges
AGE: 64. Born on Feb. 2, 1949, in Cape Girardeau.

HOME: East Prairie, Mo.


EDUCATION: Bachelor's degree in business administration, Southeast Missouri State University; master's degree in business administration, University of Missouri.

EXPERIENCE: Missouri House of Representatives, January 2007 to present; former supermarket owner, high school sports referee and substitute teacher.

FAMILY: Wife, Amy; three sons.

-- Associated Press

Democratic 8th District selection committee meeting
State Rep. Steve Hodges is nominated on the first vote by the Democratic 8th District selection committee Saturday, Feb. 16 in Poplar Bluff, Mo. Hodges will face state Rep. Jason Smith in a special June 4 election to replace U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson.
VIDEO: Steve Hodges interview
LIVE VIDEO PLAYBACK: Democratic 8th District selection committee meeting in Poplar Bluff, Mo.
Watch live streaming video from semissouriannews at livestream.com
Map of pertinent addresses
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