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.
What if the Missouri GOP Senate primary was a hand of Texas Hold ‘Em? | Opinion
By: Jeff Smith - September 27, 2021
In my experience, mixing politics and poker is not without risk. But just like that first time, I couldn’t resist, and so as Missouri’s U.S. Senate race begins to take shape I find myself pondering: if each candidate held a Texas Hold ‘Em starting hand, what would they be, and why? Texas Hold ‘Em, for […]
Some of my biggest mistakes – and lessons learned – in politics
By: Jeff Smith - August 10, 2021
As my friend and former Missouri Democratic Party Chairman Stephen Webber likes to say of politicians, it’s hard to be great until you lose. Bill Clinton’s 1974 loss to Congressman John Paul Hammerschmidt brought exposure to conservative voters in what was then Arkansas’ most Republican quadrant, helping Clinton hone a centrist message that got him […]
Missouri Republicans should see Kansas as a political cautionary tale
By: Jeff Smith - July 6, 2021
In 2012, I wrote a column seeking to explain the rightward shift in Missouri politics over the previous decade. The title was cribbed from the popular 2007 Thomas Frank book, What’s The Matter With Kansas, which chronicled that state’s evolution from a place famous for its prairie radicalism to one characterized by an ever-escalating culture […]
Splintered GOP led to Trump victory in 2016. Greitens eying the same path in 2022
By: Jeff Smith - June 11, 2021
Political scientists who study campaigns developed a concept called “coordination failure.” It describes the electoral problem of two or more similarly positioned candidates, who together would have plurality voter support, competing against an opposing candidate from a different ideological space. The latter candidate emerges victorious due to the splitting of votes between like candidates The […]
How the reddening of Missouri has shaped both parties’ 2022 Senate primary
By: Jeff Smith - April 30, 2021
What does it take to be a successful candidate for high office in Missouri these days? We might consider that question through the lens of Missouri’s 2022 U.S. Senate race. — One thing it used to take to be a successful candidate was relative moderation. It was helpful to be somewhere near the middle of […]
Why does Missouri have a baker’s dozen of possible U.S. Senate candidates?
By: Jeff Smith - March 19, 2021
In winter 2007, weeks into my tenure in the state Senate, I prepared to board a flight back from Washington, D.C, and bumped into former U.S. Senator Jim Talent at the gate. I’d hosted a series of events for the Democrat who had defeated him a year earlier, Claire McCaskill, and been an active surrogate […]
Who defines the Missouri GOP — Roy Blunt, Josh Hawley… or Eric Greitens?
By: Jeff Smith - February 24, 2021
The eyes of the nation turned to U.S. Sen. Josh Hawley over the holidays when he became the the first senator to announce an objection to the certification of presidential electors. But the eyes of local politicos turned instead to his home-state colleague, Missouri’s senior senator. How would Roy Blunt — up for re-election next […]
I thought I had a sure thing. After the D.C. insurrection, I’m not so sure
By: Jeff Smith - January 20, 2021
There’s an old poker adage that says, “if you look around the table and can’t figure out who the fish (that is, sucker) is, then you’re probably the fish.” In a very different realm of gambling, I had a recent experience evoking that maxim. Just after the Dec. 14 Electoral College vote, an old friend […]
Five calls from Missouri politicos after Election Day
By: Jeff Smith - December 21, 2020
When I address state legislatures about ethical dilemmas in public life – and how to avoid making a mistake like the one I made in the days immediately following my first campaign – I always say that smart people learn from their mistakes, but wise people learn from other people’s mistakes. It’s in that spirit […]
2020 was a bloodbath for Missouri Democrats. Will 2022 be any better?
By: Jeff Smith - November 16, 2020
There’s no point trying to spin it: While the 2020 election was a mixed verdict nationally, with Republicans gaining congressional seats and minimizing Senate losses even as Joe Biden defeated President Donald Trump, the Missouri verdict was unequivocal. It hurts to say, but 2020 was a bloodbath for Missouri Democrats. It started atop the ticket […]
Missouri Politics in 2020: How did we get here?
By: Jeff Smith - October 26, 2020
I sat down to write this on the 20th anniversary of Gov. Mel Carnahan’s tragic plane crash. Much has changed for me since then, but far more has changed in Missouri politics. Twenty years ago, I’d just come off my first real campaign gig, a failed effort to elect Missouri native Bill Bradley to the […]