Candidates for 8th District seat campaign throughout area

Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Steve Hodges
Jason Smith
Bill Slantz

A week on the campaign trail in Missouri's 8th Congressional District has been good to Republican Jason Smith, while his Democratic opponent, Steve Hodges is now becoming organized after winning his party's nomination Saturday.

Both candidates are working a balancing act between their duties as state representatives and campaigning to become a member of Congress.

Josh Haynes, Smith's campaign manager, said Monday that fundraising for Smith, a state representative from Salem, Mo., and Missouri's House speaker pro tem, is exceeding expectations.

"Our goal going into last week was to raise $100,000 for the first week, and he actually did that in the first three days," Haynes said. "That effort has continued. It's been very encouraging, the amount of support he's gotten, from people throughout the district, and throughout the state, really."

Smith spent part of last weekend in St. Louis, where he met with Republicans from throughout the state during the party's annual Lincoln Days event. By Monday night, he was speaking to members of the Sikeston Kiwanis Club, and has several other campaign appearances planned in Southeast Missouri for the rest of the week, including three during the next three days in Cape Girardeau.

At 6:30 p.m. today, Smith will address the Cape County Tea Party at the Cape Girardeau Public Library; at 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, he'll meet with the Cape West Rotary Club at My Daddy's Cheesecake; and at 7 p.m. Thursday, Smith will speak to the SEMO Pachyderms Club at Dexter Bar-B-Que.

Haynes said Smith also plans to attend other meetings in Mississippi, New Madrid, Scott and Stoddard counties during the next three days, and will spend more time in Cape Girardeau this weekend.

Hodges said Monday he is focused on putting together a campaign team and forming a fundraising strategy in the next few days. Today he will register his campaign committee, Hodges For Congress.

Hodges said he already is fielding many calls for requesting appearances and inquiries about where donations to his campaign can be sent.

"It's just going to go boom, boom, boom," Hodges said. "I walked out with a pocketful of appointments Saturday."

A committee Saturday selected Hodges to be the Democratic nominee during a meeting in Poplar Bluff, Mo., choosing the state representative, who is now in his fourth term, over two other candidates, Todd Mahn, a Festus, Mo., funeral home owner and director, and Markel Fitchpatrick, a businessman and former mayor of Blodgett, Mo.

Joe Duffy, executive director of the Missouri Democratic Party, said Monday in an email to the Southeast Missourian that 68 votes were cast by 59 committee members. Nine committee members cast two votes for a nominee because they served on both their county committee and legislative district committee.

At Saturday's meeting, the committee's secretary announced during her credential report that there were "67 voting members present." Duffy said the committee's chairwoman, Cindy Jenks, didn't count herself in the tally, so "the credential report states there are 67 votes instead of 68 votes."

Hodges needed 34 votes to win the nomination, and received 39 in the first round of voting.

Smith was chosen by a Republican committee from a 10-person field during a nomination meeting Feb. 9 in Van Buren, Mo. Libertarians also chose a candidate, Bill Slantz of St. Charles, Mo., during a meeting Feb. 9. Independent candidates who gather and certify about 6,000 signatures of registered voters before 5 p.m. March 30 also can appear on the June 4 special election ballot.

Hodges has campaign appearances planned in Caruthersville, Mo., for Friday night, and also will speak to a pro-gun club in Chaffee, Mo., during the next few weeks. Hodges did not offer more specifics on appearances Monday, as he said his plans for the campaign are still forming and his schedule is constantly changing.

He did outline his planned talking points, however, and said his main focus during the short campaign will be agriculture, since "it is the biggest concern in Southeast Missouri and the base of our economy."

Hodges also said he is genuinely looking forward to campaigning.

"I know my opponent has got a jump-start on me," he said. "But I'm looking forward to this. When I ran the first time and it got to the end of the race [for state representative], somebody said, 'Man, I bet you're glad that's over.'"

"I wasn't," Hodges said. "I was sad to see it end. I met some of the nicest people and it was refreshing. So I don't dread it. We are going to work really hard on this thing."

eragan@semissourian.com

388-3627

Pertinent address:

East Prairie, Mo.

Salem, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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