Saint Louis, Mo. — A poll released less than 48 hours before polls officially open for the primary show St. Louis County Councilman Steve Stenger with 51 percent of the vote to incumbent Charlie Dooley’s 36 percent.
With 10 percent undecided the poll — which comes from the Remington Research Group, a Republican polling outfit —is damning for Dooley, who may see his 30 year political career come to an abrupt end tomorrow night.
Dooley, who has held the position of County Executive for a decade, has massive support from the African American community, where turnout will need to be very high in order to overcome the statistical gap.
Stenger, on the other hand, is expected to carry the southern portion of St. Louis County where he has lived and represented on the council. Stenger also has the support of some moderate Republican voters in the county who have tired of Dooley’s long reign. With the Democratic primary drowning out the tame-by-comparison Republican contest, a block of Republican votes is likely for Stenger.
Dooley’s campaign team has worked hard against Stenger’s attempt to paint him as incompetent or corrupt, choosing as their own narrative to paint Stenger as opportunistic and untrustworthy.
Late Sunday evening, the Dooley campaign tweeted an image associated with an outside group’s party mailer sent to county voters. The mailer identifies Jane Dueker, former chief counsel for Gov. Bob Holden and a government affairs attorney for Stinson Morrison Hecker LLP, as “a notorious friend of elite interests, often working against progressive policies to protect her corporate clients.
Dueker initially categorized the mailer as smacking of sexism, noting that the accompanying tweet called Duker “one of the tricks” that Stenger was using on county voters.
Dooley’s campaign responded that the remark was not intended to be sexist.
“It’s hard to believe that this was unintentional,” Dueker said. “It was a sexist remark and they refuse to take responsibility for it, which is why I’m an ardent supporter of Steve Stenger, because the Dooley administration consistently refuses responsibility.”
While a mailer about one of Stenger’s advisors is unlikely to shake the electoral landscape, the strategy speaks to the breadth of a campaign devoted almost exclusively to the failures of the opponent.
Dueker characterized the Dooley campaign as desperate and said the increasingly negative attacks on the Stenger operation was a sign of “eroding support.”
Stenger will most likely take an early lead in tomorrow’s primary — since ballots from the western and southern parts of the county typically come in first and those are the areas where Stenger enjoys the most support — and then watch tensely as returns slowly leak out of north and central St. Louis county, where Dooley typically does very well.
Close or not, it will be a late Tuesday for Charlie Dooley and Steve Stenger.
Collin Reischman was the Managing Editor for The Missouri Times, and a graduate of Webster University with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism.