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Best Local Politician 

Jeff Smith

He charmed us in 2004 with his quixotic bid to fill Dick Gephardt's political shoes in the U.S. House of Representatives. Excitement-rich but cash-poor, Smith was bested in that contest by Russ Carnahan, scion of one of Missouri's most powerful political dynasties and now representative for the state's Third Congressional District. Beaten but unbowed, Smith picked himself up, dusted himself off and one year later launched a successful drive to the Missouri State Senate. An adjunct political-science instructor at Washington University, Smith mounted a campaign that marched to the beat of improved public schools. And since unpacking his bags in Jeff City, Smith, a Democrat representing the Fourth District, has tried to make good on his promise, sponsoring several bills aimed at improving education in the state. Mr. Smith hasn't yet made it to Washington, but then again, he's only 33.

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