Democrat David Tyson Smith has won the special election to fill the legislative seat vacated by fellow Democrat Kip Kendrick.
Smith defeated his Libertarian opponent Glenn Nielsen with 75% of the vote. Smith received 1,801 votes, to Nielsen’s 594. Smith is the first Black state representative to serve Columbia, as well as the first outside of Kansas City or St. Louis metro areas.
Smith gathered with his family at his home Tuesday night, as results became clear. Smith said he is grateful for the support from mid-Missouri voters from the 45th district and is excited to represent them.
“The voters and the supporters have been tremendous,” Smith said. “The bottom line is that change has come to Missouri. And I'm excited for the citizens. And hope is on the horizon.”
Once the votes are certified, Smith said his first priority when he takes office will be sticking to his campaign goal and working to amend voting rights legislation.
“We need to attack these widespread voter suppression efforts,” Smith said. “Missouri ranks third in the nation regarding voter suppression bills, so we need to push back against those and make sure that everyone has fair and equitable access to the ballot.
Born and raised in Columbia, Smith is a graduate of the University of Missouri and attended Tulane Law School in New Orleans. He later founded local law firm Smith and Parnell LLC with Malia Parnell. This was Smith’s first time running for elected office, and he said he plans to continue working at his law firm when the house is not in session to continue serving the community.
Smith’s win comes after Gov. Mike Parson called for a special April 6 election to fill the legislative seat Kendrick served from 2015-2021.
Kendrick ran unopposed and won reelection in the 2020 general election in November. He forwent his final term to serve as chief of staff to Sen. Greg Razer, D-Kansas City.