Today’s special election for Missouri’s 8th Congressional district features two candidates who are ideologically similar on business issues in spite of their membership in opposing political parties.
Republican Jason Smith and Democrat Steve Hodges will battle for a seat vacated by former Missouri Representative Jo Ann Emerson, who resigned earlier this year to take a job as president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Smith is the current speaker pro tem of the Missouri House. He has served in the state legislature since 2005, when he secured his seat in a special election. Smith, a social conservative and small business advocate, has earned endorsements from the NRA and Missouri Right to Life, as well as state agricultural groups like the Missouri Corn Growers Association and the Missouri Farm Bureau.
Hodges, who has served in the Missouri House since 2006, shares many of his opponent’s views on social issues; he too identifies as pro-life and pro-gun and won the NRA’s endorsement in 2010. He has been endorsed by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and Gov. Jay Nixon, who described him as a “common-sense guy” and “a breath of fresh air” in a May 14 press release.
Missouri’s 8th district, which covers the southeastern corner of the state and includes Cape Girardeau, Rolla and West Plains, is highly conservative, and the contested seat has been under Republican control for over three decades.
The two minority party candidates in the race are Constitution Party candidate Doug Enyart and Libertarian Bill Slantz.
Smith believes the federal tax code is unnecessarily complex and hurts small business owners. On his campaign site, he has pledged to simplify the IRS and help eliminate bureaucratic red tape that he claims leaves business owners “filling out paperwork” instead of developing their companies.
Hodges, also a self-proclaimed defender of business owners, has promised on his site to “stand up for Southeastern Missouri family farms and small businesses.”
Both candidates agree that elements of the 2010 Affordable Care Act are problematic, though they disagree on the extent to which the federal healthcare law should be revoked.
At a May 28 candidate forum, Smith said he was in favor of repealing the entire law, while Hodges supported the mandates that would cover college students and individuals with preexisting medical conditions, the Southeast Missourian reported.
Smith is in favor of a free-market approach to health care and views enhanced access and competition as factors that will improve the state of the system—not “turn[ing] it into a government run program that puts a bureaucrat between you and your doctor,” as he says on his site.