May 11h, 2004--- Change For Missouri announced its endorsement of Jeff Smith for Congress from Missouri's 3rd Congressional District on Saturday, May 8. The endorsement is Smith's second in two weeks and confirms Smith's status as the choice of area progressives to succeed Dick Gephardt.
Change For Missouri is the local chapter of Democracy for America, the grassroots progressive group begun by Presidential candidate Gov. Howard Dean. The group has 4500 members in the St. Louis region and voted to endorse Smith by an overwhelming margin in an online election last week.
Change For Missouri's Coordinator Dyan Ortbal-Avalos said, "Democracy for America/Change for Missouri is pleased to announce the endorsement of Jeff Smith for U.S. Congress in Missouri's 3rd congressional district. The group believes Smith will be the strongest voice for progressive values in Congress. Our 4,500 members are working hard to ensure the success of progressive candidates like Jeff Smith in the upcoming election cycle."
Smith said that Change For Missouri shared his progressive values and vision for change in America. "I am very proud that Change For Missouri endorsed my candidacy. Like Change For Missouri, I believe that this country needs more leaders willing to confront the right wing and stand up for progressive values like universal health insurance and the protection of our civil liberties. " Smith said.
Smith also noted that Change For Missouri's grassroots organization served as a model for his campaign. "Change For Missouri shares the values of my campaign, as well as the tactics. I believe that democracy must be cultivated from the bottom up. Each and every citizen has a voice and a vote, and cultivating those voices at the community level is the best way to change America. We have been taking my positive, progressive message to the voters of the 3rd District at community meetings and neighborhood coffees, one voter at a time."
Smith said his campaign was gaining tremendous momentum, noting in addition to his grassroots momentum and other key endorsements he has raised over $250,000 since beginning fundraising six months ago. Smith has more cash on hand after just six months ($181,000) than all but one of his opponents, Russ Carnahan, who has been raising money for 15 months.
Smith, 30, has distinguished himself as an award-winning teacher of political science and public policy at Washington University and UM-St. Louis, as co-founder (with Susan Uchitelle and Sarah Smith) of The Confluence Academies, a group of acclaimed public charter schools in the City of St. Louis, and as a longtime youth basketball coach. Though this is his first run for office, Smith has been involved in several local and national Democratic campaigns, including a stint as Deputy Political Director for Bill Bradley's 2000 presidential campaign.