With three candidates in the running, the race to fill Missouri's 8th Congressional District seat is shaping up.
On Feb. 9, state Rep. Jason Smith was selected by the district's Republican committee in Van Buren to run as the party's nominee. Smith, who hails from Salem, faced an experienced cast of candidates. After six rounds of voting, the 32-year-old lawyer prevailed.
On the same day, Bill Slantz of St. Charles won the nomination from the Libertarian committee.
The Democratic committee put forth state Rep. Steve Hodges, D-East Prairie, on Saturday. Hodges is serving his fourth term in the General Assembly and was a latecomer to the nomination process -- though he handily won the nomination during the first round of voting.
Independent candidates have until 5 p.m. March 30 to submit the required number of signatures -- about 6,000 -- to the Secretary of State's office.
This will be one of the more fascinating campaigns for this area in decades. Former U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson, and her late husband Bill Emerson before her, have been a staple for Southeast Missouri politics since 1980. Their influence was significant, particularly when it came to constituent service.
A special election will be held June 4 to select the next congressman for this area. The responsibilities of congressional members goes beyond the capitol. These men and women play key roles in helping citizens deal with government agencies and serve as advocates when major issues arise in the district.
We look forward to a vibrant and respectful campaign.