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Missouri Democratic Party taps Clem Smith as new acting chair


Former state Rep. Clem Smith is taking over as acting chair of the Missouri Democratic Party.  

Smith is replacing Jean Peters Baker, who served as the party’s chair since 2018. Smith had served as vice-chair to the party since then.

“We’ve got work to do, but the wind is at our back after we flipped a seat red to blue last year, and as recent polling has shown, that we’re a swing state with Vice President Biden polling ahead of President Trump,” Smith said. “Between expanding Medicaid in August to restoring effective leadership in the Governor’s mansion in November, this election will have historic consequences.”

Smith was a member of the Missouri House from 2011 to 2019, during which time he also served as deputy minority whip. He is a member of the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists (CBTU) and the International Union of Operating Engineers (IUOE).  

Baker, who also serves as Jackson County Prosecutor, announced last week she would be stepping down from her role due to changes in both positions. 

“My commitment to justice and service to our community has been a centerpiece of my career. In light of the recent developments in my position and the office of Jackson County Prosecutor, I am stepping back from the role as Chair of the Missouri Democratic Party,” Baker said in a statement. “I am assigning all of my duties to Vice-Chair Clem Smith and he will assume the role of acting chair.”

“I believe that my friend and colleague, Clem Smith, is the right person to lead our party at this critical moment,” she said. “I am grateful for his partnership. The Missouri Democratic Party has long embraced inclusion and diversity, as well as the need to address racial injustices in our state and nation. Clem will rise to the challenges and recognizes the need for leadership at this time of great unrest.”

Baker has been active in the Democratic Party for some time, having also served in the Missouri House in 2011. Her focuses have included women’s health issues and the working class, according to a 2018 interview with The Missouri Times.

“Jean Peters Baker is truly an asset to the Democratic Party, and I’m grateful for her leadership not only at the Party, but in her community,” Smith said. “I’m honored to be asked to help lead during one of the most important elections we’ve seen.”

Missouri’s Medicaid expansion initiative was recently endorsed by the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry and AARP’s Missouri branch. The issue will go before voters on Aug. 4. 

The Democratic Party has five candidates for governor on the ballot for the August primary: State Auditor Nicole Galloway, Kansas City resident Eric Morrison, and St. Louis residents Antoin Johnson, Jimmie Matthews, and Robin John Daniel van Quathem.