Jefferson City, MO – Sources have confirmed to The Missouri Times that Executive Director of the Missouri Republican Party, Lloyd Smith, is planning to resign next week. Two well-placed sources say that Smith was planning to leave sometime in the first half of 2013, but after the change in chairman of the party and his official entry into the race for the 8th congressional district republican nomination, he will now be leaving under the guise of “focusing on his congressional campaign.”
The plans of Smith’s impending resignation began to leak just six days after Ed Martin’s successful bid for republican party chairman defeating incumbent chairman David Cole by a small margin. Cole was supported by the entire republican congressional delegation, as well as Smith. Cole’s defeat was largely seen as a set back for party moderates, as well as Smith’s congressional campaign, and further cast him as a moderate seeking the nomination of a very conservative 8th district committee.
Earlier this week the St. Louis Beacon reported, “He (Martin) also plans to take his time before making any major changes in the party’s staff in Jefferson City.” However, many are saying that Martin did not wish to be saddled with Smith, not only as a relic of the prior chairman’s administration, but the conflicts that arose from an employee of the state party openly running for office against 12 other party leaders.
Sources say that while it is a foregone conclusion Martin will provide the obligatory statements of thanks and support to Smith upon his departure, there are still ongoing negotiations about how full-throated the conservative Martin’s support of the more moderate Smith will be as he leaves the party.
Smith has been in a difficult position since Congresswoman Emerson announced back in November she would be resigning. Before the defeat of the former party leadership last weekend, Smith put out a news story to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch attempting to deflect attention from the party’s disappointing showing in statewide elections by pointing to the party’s success in county races. The assertion that Smith, or the state party, played any significant role in county races was met with open laughter and bewilderment by many republican county officials. This was followed last month by three sitting state senators repeating calls for his firing.
Smith’s precarious position was on full display Thursday night at the 8th district forum in Salem, when he openly criticized voting for the fiscal cliff legislation that was supported by Senator Blunt as well as Congressman Luetkemeyer and Congresswoman Emerson, who Smith previously served on the staff of and whose seat he is attempting to win the nomination for.
With his resignation, Smith will be more free to seek the congressional nomination, and Martin is likely to pick up many supporters for the swift handling of the situation. There have been statements made by Martin that he would undertake a nationwide search if a new executive director was needed, but the leading candidate is likely Aaron Willard who currently serves on the campaign staff of Congresswoman Ann Wagner.
We will continue to update this breaking story throughout the weekend.