Opinion

Mr. Smith goes to Washington

Ed Martin Chairman, Missouri GOP

On Tuesday night, conservative Republican Jason Smith was elected to Congress in a landslide. He finished with 67 percent of the vote, 40 points ahead of his Democratic opponent. Smith, who’s representing Missouri’s Eighth Congressional District, will be a reliable vote against amnesty and common core, and for life, traditional marriage and the Constitution. Just 32 years old, he will be one of the youngest members of Congress.

Smith has more in common with Rush Limbaugh than he does with Chris Christie. In fact, his district includes Cape Girardeau, Limbaugh’s hometown. The Eighth District runs from Missouri’s southeastern boot heel clear up the Mississippi River to just south of St. Louis County, and then dives down to the Arkansas border. It’s a rural, conservative district — so conservative that Smith’s Democratic opponent ran on a pro-life, pro-Second Amendment, anti-Obamacare platform.

Smith himself has a long track record of conservatism. He grew up on a farm in Dent County. In college, he’d drive from Dent County to Maries County to pick up yard signs calling on Missouri’s then-governor, Democrat Mel Carnahan, to accept the will of Missourians and not veto a bill banning partial-birth abortion. He then helped distribute those signs across the state.

He’s been busy since college. He’s gotten a law degree, started a small business, worked on his family farm and run for office. In 2005, he was elected to the Missouri House. Once there, he backed tax cuts, Second Amendment protections and general good government laws.

In addition to being a small-government conservative, Smith has an easygoing personality that allows him to make friends easily and avoid angering people. At a recent fundraiser in St. Louis, former U.S. Senator Jack Danforth said that Smith is “more conservative than me and one of the best guys I know.” High praise from a man who disagrees with Smith on a number of issues.

I spent Tuesday night with Smith in southern Jefferson County. Shortly after the polls closed, it became clear that he was going to win easily. I was excited for him and wanted to talk about his swearing-in. But Smith was too superstitious to discuss any of that before all the votes had been counted. Instead, he talked about how he spent the last hours of Election Day at a quiet spot on his Salem, Missouri farm.

Now he’s off to D.C., where he’ll try to save our republic. I like his chances.

Ed Martin is the chairman of the Missouri Republican Party and a practicing attorney. In the past, he’s served as chairman of the St. Louis Board of Elections, chief of staff to Missouri Governor Matt Blunt, and special assistant to the late Pope John Paul II.