Author

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith

Jeff Smith is executive director of the Missouri Workforce Housing Association, which supports development of safe, affordable housing. Previously, he taught public policy at Dartmouth College and The New School, represented the city of St. Louis in the Senate, and wrote three books: Trading Places, on U.S. party alignment; Mr. Smith Goes to Prison, a memoir and argument for reform; and Ferguson in Black and White, an historical analysis of St. Louis inequality. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Washington University.

COMMENTARY

Five things I got wrong in 2022 — and what (if anything) my mistakes mean for 2024

By: - January 5, 2023

Political prognosticators fill thousands of column inches and hours of airtime making predictions, and love to say “I told you so” when they’re right.  It would be helpful if more pundits stepped up to confess – and reckon with – their misfires.  In that vein, here are five of my mistaken predictions from the 2022 […]

COMMENTARY

Has stark polarization between Missouri Republicans and Democrats led to detente?

By: - November 2, 2022

The year was 1990.  St. Louis County Executive H.C. Milford, a Republican and kindly insurance broker who rose to power when his predecessor Gene McNary received a federal appointment, was seeking election to a full term against a hard-charging three-term county prosecutor named George “Buzz” Westfall. Milford, an accidental county executive who was, by all […]

COMMENTARY

The five silliest things candidates told me during Missouri’s primary season

By: - September 12, 2022

The American polity is dangerously divided, and people are deadly serious about politics (which isn’t irrational, since policy outcomes are indeed life or death for many). But it helps occasionally to pause and laugh at some of the dumb things candidates of both parties do. Indeed, it is one of our only common threads these […]

COMMENTARY

Missouri’s GOP Senate primary as a hand of Texas Hold ‘Em, part four: The river

By: - August 1, 2022

Back in September of 2021, I asked: If each U.S. Senate primary candidate held a Texas Hold ‘Em starting hand, what would they be, and why? If you’re still following the series, then I assume you have some basic familiarity with poker. This spring, I provided an update, with a column describing the flop — […]

COMMENTARY

Missouri’s GOP Senate primary as a hand of Texas Hold ‘Em, part three: The turn

By: - July 12, 2022

Back in September I asked: If each U.S. Senate primary candidate held a Texas Hold ‘Em starting hand, what would they be, and why? As a refresher, in Texas Hold ‘Em, two cards are dealt face down to each player, while five “community cards” are dealt face up in three stages — a group of […]

COMMENTARY

Flash of GOP unity created a Missouri 2nd District even Harry Potter can’t turn blue | Opinion

By: - May 27, 2022

In 1992, Jim Talent was a nerdy, 30-something policy wonk with wire-rimmed glasses and a head of brown anchorman hair looking to skip a rung on Missouri’s political ladder and win a seat in Congress. He did it, edging one-term Congresswoman Joan Kelly Horn 50%-48%, a win attributed in no small part to the selfishness […]

COMMENTARY

Eric Greitens will never drop out of the Missouri Senate race | Opinion

By: - April 1, 2022

Listen to this.  Read this and this.  Watch this. If you still doubt that Eric Greitens is a threat to anyone he deems an enemy, and potentially even to himself, then you may also believe O.J. Simpson spends his days searching for the real killers.    And yet recent polling in the wake of the latest […]

COMMENTARY

Missouri’s GOP Senate primary as a hand of Texas Hold ‘Em, part two: The flop | Opinion

By: - February 16, 2022

Back in September I asked: If each U.S. Senate primary candidate held a Texas Hold ‘Em starting hand, what would they be, and why? Five months later, it’s time for an update.  But first, the rules. In Texas Hold ‘Em, two cards are dealt face down to each player, while five “community cards” are dealt […]

COMMENTARY

The U.S. Senate is broken. Missouri’s talking filibuster could fix it | Opinion

By: - January 14, 2022

U.S. Rep. Willard Duncan Vandiver coined Missouri’s  motto during an 1899 Philadelphia speech. “I come from a state that raises corn and cotton and cockleburs and Democrats,” he said, “and frothy eloquence neither convinces nor satisfies me. I am from Missouri. You have got to show me.” As a former state senator who still haunts […]

COMMENTARY

A 2022 wish list for Missouri politicos | Opinion

By: - January 4, 2022

In most jobs, most of the time, you determine your own destiny. If you’re a salesman who wants to sell more copiers the next year, you make a plan to develop more leads, make more calls every morning, get more sits and refine your pitch to close more effectively. If you’re a software engineer who […]

COMMENTARY

The biggest threat to Missouri’s 2022 legislative session? Ambition | Opinion

By: - November 30, 2021

Former Missouri House Speaker Rod Jetton liked to say that the minute you put your name on a ballot, you lose 50 IQ points. Trust me: He was only half-kidding. It’s not just that political neophytes do dumb things once they decide to run for office. It’s that ambition often clouds the thinking of even […]

COMMENTARY

The biggest lies Missouri politicos tell themselves (and others) | Opinion

By: - November 12, 2021

Denial, said Missouri’s greatest export to the world, Mark Twain, ain’t just a river in Egypt. It’s also a problem plaguing major factions of both of our political parties. A lie that a politician tells publicly can be dangerous, as we all witnessed on January 6. But lies that politicians tell themselves — wishcasting, if […]