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.


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


What if the Missouri GOP Senate primary was a hand of Texas Hold ‘Em? | Opinion

By: - 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: - 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: - 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: - 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: - 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 […]