April 19th, 2004--- Nearly one-hundred and fifty supporters joined Jeff Smith for his campaign kickoff barbecue in Forest Park on Sunday to show their support for Smith's Congressional candidacy in the 3rd District. The attendance proved that Smith's grass roots support is as strong as his successful fundraising and makes him the candidate to watch in the race to succeed Dick Gephardt.
"I am so thankful to all of the supporters out here today showing that this race is about the power of each candidate's vision not the power of their political connections or name." Smith said. "We have started a true grass roots political movement based on our belief that the 3rd District deserves the best representation possible. So far we have raised money faster than any other candidate and we now have held the biggest political event to date. From here, we are going to out work every candidate in this race in order to come out on top August 3rd. And I need your help to get there," Smith told supporters.
Supporters came from all over the 3rd District to enjoy the beautiful day, and mingle with other progressive activists who share the belief that Jeff Smith is the candidate best suited to succeed Dick Gephardt and provide that high a level of representation for the people of the 3rd District.
South City's Dave Debker said that he has been impressed with Smith energy and command of the issues. "If you go to hear all the candidates speak, as I have, Jeff is clearly the best candidate. He has the best knowledge of the issues facing the nation, and he clearly has the energy to make a difference in Washington D.C. The closer we get to election time, I'm sure many more people in the 3rd District will agree."
Smith said he was sure that his positive progressive message and political independence were an attractive combination that was resonating with the thousands of voters he had met since he started campaigning.
"I believe in the American tradition that each generation ought to leave a better world for the next," said Smith. "That's why I'm running for Congress. Our President and his Congressional followers are mortgaging our children's future and crippling the next generation's ability to succeed. The people of the Third District are ready for an independent Congressman with the courage to withstand political pressure and do what's right for them and for their children," said Smith.
Smith said the attendance at the BBQ was another indication of the momentum his was generating, noting that he recently showed successful fundraising results for the 1st quarter of 2004. Smith has more cash on hand than all but one Democratic candidate in Missouri's 3rd Congressional District. In the first quarter of 2004, Smith raised over $109,000 and now has $181,000 on hand to bring his positive progressive message to 3rd District voters for the August 3rd primary. Smith's campaign has received over 1000 individual donations. The median contribution amount was $100.
Smith's experience uniquely qualifies him to serve in a House of Representatives composed of 177 lawyers with an average age of 54. 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.