Described by multiple sources as a strongly conservative and anti-establishment body, the eighth district committee tends to bristle at state Republicans, who have long treated the district as a “redheaded stepchild” with respect to campaign funding and inter-party decision-making, according to one insider.
“We have 86 members with a total of 100 votes. 14 members have two votes,” committee chairman Eddy Justice told the Daily Caller. “It would probably be fair to say this committee has a strong conservative contingent on it.”
“The committee skews highly to the right,” Missouri Watchdog editor Johnny Kapis told theDC.
The committee will convene at the River Center in Van Buren sometime after Emerson officially vacates her seat in February. Justice predicts the highest percentage of attendance in the committee’s history.
As Kinder, Steelman, and Lloyd Smith struggle, state representatives Jason Smith and Todd Richardson are driving around the district on their own, meeting committee members at their homes.
“They’re going to pick a strong conservative,” Jason Smith, the majority whip of the General Assembly and nominee for speaker pro tem, told theDC. “They’re not going to pick the person who people outside the state think is the front-runner.”
“I know when I talked to Jason, he’d been to just about every county. I think that face-to-face meeting means a lot to people,” Jefferson County Republican Club chairman Valle said.
“My campaign staff is me, myself, and I,” Smith said. “In the last 36 hours, I’ve driven over 700 miles. This is a large district bigger than many states, and I’m in the car alone.”
Richardson, a state representative from Poplar Bluff, has also been gaining traction on the ground, navigating the district in his own car.
“I’m on my way to Pacific, Missouri right now, on my way to a committee member’s house. Hoping I can find it,” Richardson told theDC. “I was on the road all day yesterday, met with 7 committee people, went right to their houses to meet. That’s the way I’ve approached this race. Some members pledge their vote ahead of time, but most of them just want to gather information right now.”
“I think this process is certainly different than a primary election. It’s a narrow universe. 85 people. It gives a candidate like me a chance to meet one-on-one, face-to-face,” Richardson said.