Mr. Smith Looks to Go to Washington; Alaska Numbers

State Rep. Jason Smith, the Missouri House of Representatives’ Speaker Pro Tempore, was chosen Saturday as the Republican nominee for the June 4 special election called to replace resigned Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO-8). Earlier this month, the congresswoman left the House to become the president and CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).

Eighty-four of the 86 designated members from the 30 county Republican committees that comprise the 8th Congressional District, and 14 at-large voters, caucused in the small town of Van Buren to nominate a standard bearer. Smith won on the sixth ballot, defeating Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder and former state Sen. Jason Crowell. Ex-Missouri Republican Party Executive Director Lloyd Smith withdrew after the fifth ballot. Former one-term congressman Wendell Bailey was eliminated after three. Smith led the balloting in all six rounds and recorded 55 votes on the final vote, five more than he needed to claim the nomination. Neither Kinder nor Crowell ever topped the 20-vote mark.

Jason Smith, an attorney and farmer, is serving his fifth term in the state House, originally coming to the legislature via special election to fill a vacancy in 2005. He was unopposed in new District 120 last November. Born in St. Louis, the 32-year-old legislator moved to Dent County early in his life in order to help manage the family farm.

The Democrats will caucus next Saturday, Feb. 16, in order to choose their nominee. Libertarians unanimously nominated businessman Bill Slantz, also two days ago. The overwhelming Republican nature of the 8th District makes Smith the prohibitive favorite to win on June 4 and succeed Emerson in Congress.

Alaska Numbers

Public Policy Polling (Feb. 4-5; 1,129 registered Alaska voters) tested all of Alaska’s key office holders, but paid particular attention to Sen. Mark Begich (D) as he stands for his first re-election in what is expected to be a highly competitive contest.

Sen. Begich registers a 49:39 percent favorable to unfavorable on the job approval scale. In contrast, Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), who lost the 2010 Republican primary only to rebound in the general election by winning as a write-in Independent, posts a 54:33 percent favorability ratio. Gov. Sean Parnell (R) scores only 46:44 percent regarding his performance in office, but is in healthy political shape when matched against all potential re-election opponents. Rep. Don Young (R-AK-AL), now serving in his 21st term in the House, scores a 50:40 percent job approval rating.

In terms of the hypothetical Senate pairings, Gov. Parnell, who is likely to seek re-election as opposed to challenging Begich, would be the strongest Republican against the incumbent Democrat, tying him at 48 percent. Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan (R), who may well enter the race, trails Begich by a close 41-47 percent. Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell (R), already forming a senatorial exploratory committee, is behind the senator 39-47 percent.

In polling for the governor’s race, incumbent Parnell leads all comers. His closest margin, 50-41 percent, is against multi-time statewide Democratic nominee Ethan Berkowitz.

When Rep. Young is tested against Democrat Scott McAdams, the party’s 2012 Senatorial nominee, the veteran congressman leads 54-37 percent.

PPP also tested some 2016 presidential hopefuls. In the earliest of ballot pairings, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton leads Florida Sen. Marco Rubio by one point, while New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tops Ms. Clinton by that same small spread.

Former Gov. Sarah Palin (R) continues to fare badly in approval polling. When asked if the respondents think that Palin should or should not run for President in 2016, by a whopping 16:78 percent, those questioned said no.

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