By ERIN RAGAN
SEMO News Service
CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo. - Candidates for Missouri's 8th Congressional District are racking up endorsements just a month shy of the June special election.
Democratic state Rep. Steve Hodges' campaign announced endorsements by three statewide officeholders Wednesday - Attorney General Chris Koster, Secretary of State Jason Kander and Treasurer Clint Zweifel - all of whom also are Democrats.
Republican state Rep. Jason Smith has garnered endorsements from the two Republican statewide officeholders, Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and Auditor Tom Schweich, and he has earned sole backing from several large organizations, including the Missouri Farm Bureau, the Missouri Corn Growers Association, the Missouri Cattlemen's Association and Missouri Right to Life. Sen. Roy Blunt and Missouri's Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives, including Ann Wagner, Blaine Luetkemeyer, Vicky Hartzler, Sam Graves and Billy Long, along with former 8th District representative Jo Ann Emerson, also have endorsed Smith.
Emerson resigned in January to become CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. She was re-elected to a 10th term representing the 8th District in November.
Smith said in a news release he is honored and humbled by the support for his campaign from advocacy groups and conservative leaders.
"The endorsements I have received truly reflect the interests of 8th District families," Smith said. "Over the last few months, I have traveled to all 30 counties in the 8th District listening to the hopes and concerns of Southern Missouri families. People are concerned about the implementation of Obamacare, they are threatened by an activist EPA and they are worried Washington is trying to restrict their Second Amendment Rights. Over the next month, my goal is to meet as many voters as possible and share my common-sense conservative message for shrinking the size and scope of the federal government and moving our region forward."
Smith, of Salem, Mo., serves as the speaker pro tem in the Missouri House of Representatives. Hodges represents the 149th House District, which covers parts of Mississippi, Scott and Pemiscot counties.
Hodges supporters pointed to his experience as a small-business owner and reputation as state representative capable of compromising with the opposing party.
"As a lifelong Southeast Missourian and former grocery store owner in East Prairie, Steve Hodges understands the issues facing small towns and rural Missouri," Koster said in a news release.
"It does not matter whether an idea is Democratic or Republican to Steve Hodges as long as it is right for the people of his district," Kander said. "Steve's independent approach is what we need in Washington to break the partisan gridlock and get things done."
Libertarian Party candidate Bill Slantz and Constitution Party candidate Doug Enyart also will appear on the ballot in the June 4 special election. Thomas W. Brown and Dr. Robert George, are running for the 8th District seat as write-in candidates.