For virtually the first time since this 113th Congress began in early January, the House of Representatives now has all 435 seats filled. Last night, Missouri Republican state Rep. Jason Smith won the 8th Congressional District special election easily outpacing his Democratic state House colleague, Steve Hodges.
Smith scored an impressive 67-27 percent victory in what has become a solidly Republican southeastern Missouri seat as evidenced in Mitt Romney defeating President Obama here 66-32 percent last November.
The special congressional election never captured much attention. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R) announced her resignation in December in order to accept a job in the private sector, and Gov. Jay Nixon (D) then scheduled a very long special election cycle. Smith won his party caucus in early February, and Hodges followed suit on the Democratic side the following week. Thus, the four-month special election began.
The fact that the contest never created any controversy clearly favored the majority party candidate, and Smith took full advantage of his opportunity. Turnout was very low, with only 62,764 votes being recorded. Normally, participation in special congressional elections nears 100,000 voters. The previous special vote, the May 7 South Carolina contest that elected Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC-1), saw more than 143,000 ballots cast, for example.
Representative-elect Smith should have little trouble holding this seat in the 2014 regular election and will likely be safe in his new position at least until the districts are redrawn in 2021.