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.


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 […]


Why does Missouri have a baker’s dozen of possible U.S. Senate candidates?

By: - 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: - 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: - 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: - 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: - 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 […]