by Scott Faughn
ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Last fall, many St. Louis City Hall observers’ interests were peaked to see a heavyweight fight between the three-term incumbent Mayor, Francis Slay, and the President of the Board of Alderman, Lewis Reed. However, the heavyweight bout turned into more of a tune up sparring practice for the main event: the County Executive’s race in 2014.
So, we took a look at five reasons why the Mayor is poised to step into history during the next two weeks on grounds that not even Kiel, Tucker or Schoemehl have walked.
No. 5: The Embarrassing Reed Campaign
The Reed campaign was simply not up to running for Mayor of St. Ann, much less St. Louis. His first campaign manager, Matt Teter, never seemed to get traction. After a contentious split with Teter, Reed claimed he was never going to take the campaign to the primary election. After the eyes of the St. Louis political class rolled back in their heads, he brought in the tandem of Glenn Burleigh and Robin Wright Jones. Without naming names of someone who had previously been a Communist, cast this lot up against the Slay juggernaut ran by Jeff Rainford, and the contrast becomes clear.
Overall, voters throughout the swing precincts feel confident about the condition of the City and the course he has set for the future. Reed’s campaign worked hard to gin up racial hostilities and scare central corridor voters about violent crime, but the fact was that the city never saw an urgent need for change.
No. 3: The Wizard of Washington Avenue
Reed could not send out a tweet, Facebook post, get a story into the American or, by the end, have press conference without Richard Callow having a witty and well-placed retort that framed Reed as silly for making the charge. By the end of the campaign, Callow was attending Reed press conferences, passing out rebuttal information in real time. Callow helped Reed during past campaigns, and the lack of his help here, and more importantly his help to Slay, showed.
Aside from Callow’s smothering defense, the mail that was dropping during the end of the primary race would have halted any momentum Reed could have mustered. Now the question is, can the Wizard of Washington Avenue bring his magic to Clayton and re-elect Dooley?
No. 2: Clay, Nasheed and Dooley
It seemed from the beginning of the race that Reed and Antonio French were determined to make the primary a North/South City race war. However, with Slay’s endorsements of Congressman Lacy Clay, Sen. Jamilah Nasheed, D-St. Louis, and County Executive Charlie Dooley, his campaign knew they had the support they needed during the primary. While Slay was the big winner this year, Clay sticks true to his word after Slay was biting in his attack against Russ Carnahan. Nasheed has never been more powerful as she came full circle from working to recall Slay to being the tip of the spear in responding to Reed attacks. And Dooley attached himself like glue in for his re-election bid, and was even a few steps behind Slay walking down Tamm for the St. Patty’s Day Parade.
It will be interesting during the next 16 months to see if Slay’s popularity and political machine can carry Dooley to a win next August if the primary ends up a Dooley v. Stenger one-on-one matchup.
No. 1: Reed never had a positive message
Reed was elected President of the Board of Aldermen during his progressive revitalization projects, but Slay had far more credibility on those issues than Reed. Reed resorted to listening to the police scanner and attempting to place the blame on Slay for any crime committed throughout the city. He finished weak by promoting an amateurish Hitler parody video, which Jeff Mazur described on Twitter: “Setting aside the additional offensive content, Team Reed should be embarrassed simply for using the played-out, unfunny Hitler parody vid.”
Reed could have looked no further than to Mitt Romney’s failed presidential campaign last fall to see that it’s nearly impossible to defeat a popular incumbent without some semblance of a positive message of your own.