Former Mayor Vince Schoemehl is going full throttle in support of 20th Ward Alderperson Cara Spencer, who recently announced that she is going to run for St. Louis mayor in 2021. Vince was a strong supporter of current Mayor Lyda Krewson, St. Louis’ first woman mayor, but since Lyda teamed with then-St. Louis County Executive (now federal inmate #REDACTED) Steve Stenger to remove him from the Bi-State board, Vince developed an acute but common political virus called buyer’s remorse. (One only wishes that Rex Sinquefield was less stratospherically wealthy and could catch some buyer’s remorse and revisit his political investment strategy.)
The Spencer campaign for mayor is Schoemehl’s second attempt at payback on that mayor-county exec team that diminished his political relevancy by dumping him from the Bi-State board. He also supported Mark Mantovani’s close but failed attempt in 2018 to beat Stenger.
The EYE obtained an email that Schoemehl sent to an African American influential in the region. The pitch is an interesting indicator of what to expect in this campaign, at least from Schoemehl. The payback may be to Krewson, but clearly he anticipated a black candidate whom Spencer will have to beat. St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura O. Jones is seeking reelection and has not responded to questions from other media about running for mayor, but Schoemehl and Spencer know that Jones forged a multi-racial progressive coalition to come within beating a white status quo candidate (and the only white candidate in a crowded field) by only 888 votes. Schoemehl going directly after a black influential on Spencer’s behalf suggests his belief that the multi-racial progressive coalition will be up for grabs.
“Cara is a white woman running for mayor in a city that’s about half black,” Schoemehl. “But she’s got experience and demonstrated success and in representing the interests of black people, really all her constituents. Cara represents the 20th Ward in South City, which is about 70 to 75 black.”
Schoemehl goes on to point out to this black influential that Spencer has beaten a black woman candidate before.
“She ran for reelection last year and faced a young black woman, who was very capable, very well educated, very articulate and who had worked as a community organizer for the neighborhood organization for a couple years,” Schoemehl. “Her opponent knew the neighborhood. Cara carried that election with 70 percent of the vote. Why?”
Schoemehl offers an answer.
“Because people – black, Hispanic, white – knew Cara and they knew her work. We’re living in times where leaders can create a new future and this has to be done by people of good will and sturdy character, and I believe Cara fills those requirements.”
The EYE offers an alternate answer to why? In that election, Spencer raised and spent more than $62,000 and got 660 votes in this ward that is 70 percent to 75 percent black.
Bill “Archie Bunker” McClellan has dubbed Tishaura Jones the “shadow mayor.” In this Schoemehl spiel, Jones is the phantom candidate whom this Spencer surrogate is crafting friendraiser appeals around.
Schoemehl ends his pitch on a more naked appeal for the multi-racial progressive coalition to give a white candidate a chance: “Our community – the city and the entire region – need new generation leaders and they will come from all walks of life, and races and all backgrounds. We’ve just got to empower leaders like Cara to create the future well all want and desperately need.”
Revenge of the zombie
Tishaura Jones may have been drafted as a phantom mayoral candidate by Schoemehl, but that’s nothing in Missouri today. We also have a phantom gubernatorial candidate – who is also a zombie.
Ladies and gentlemen, newly risen from the political grave, meet Eric Greitens. He resigned from office, of course, when the state Legislature deadline for subpoenaed campaign fundraising documents was due and St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly Gardner was pressing charges against Greitens for allegedly committing the felony of invading someone’s privacy by taking an unwanted picture of someone and storing it in a way that could transmit it electronically.
Gardner’s dropped charges are old news, but Greitens was zombie walking to the tune of a news opportunity, the Missouri Ethics Commission concluding its review of his campaign by issuing a fine rather than an indictment. Greitens spent thousands over the weekend on Facebook ads promoting his so-called "total exoneration." This is like a bank robber bragging about being exonerated when a municipal police department dismisses a speeding ticket he got while driving the getaway car during the police chase. In other words, the Missouri Ethics Commission didn't even address any of the crimes with which Kim Gardner had charged him or the state Legislature was investigating.
Greitens distorted the MEC's finding against him, which in fact resulted in one of the largest penalties in state history – a $178,000 fine. The fine – which Greitens signed a statement agreeing to – was a result of illegal coordination between his campaign and a third party, to the tune of roughly $6 million expended by the third-party group. Greitens had previously denied any knowledge of such coordination in representations to the MEC. Covering up coordination with a third-party group – involving far smaller amounts of money – has earned others felony convictions and even time in the joint. Yet Greitens is crowing “total exoneration.”
Greitens let loose one real howler of a line in his social media post. “Many people have asked about revenge,” Greitens said. “That’s not what we need. Revenge is about the past. Justice is about the future. And, I’ll tell you, the future is bright.”
That “the future is bright” is just zombie smack talk: watch your shadows, Mike Parson and Josh Hawley. But the high-minded shrugging aside of revenge is hilarious to anyone following the hell that Gardner and the investigator she employed on the Greitens case, William Tisaby, have been catching from Greitens’ legal team he engaged to defend himself. The proper statement would be “some people have been reporting in detail about my revenge.”
By the way, has anyone asked Mark Mantovani how he feels about Greitens using some of the dough leftover from Mantovani's $20,000 campaign donation to pay off the MEC fine? Mantovani will now have a chance to fund his favorite candidate, himself, as he has announced his second run for county executive.
G-men in Jeff City
Jefferson City is crawling with G-men interested in the state's process for awarding medical cannabis licenses. This could be a sleeper issue for Nicole Galloway vs. Governor Parson, whose administration is handling the licensing. If the G-men are smelling anything other than good medical-grade skunk bud, this could Galloway a bump she needs badly, based on current polling.
On the other hand, if Missouri voters find a ballot initiative to expand Medicaid in November, and if they approve it as they approved a raft of progressive indicatives last cycle – and if they actually vote for the candidate who embraces such progressive policies (Galloway) and reject the candidate who rejects them (Parson) – then Galloway would need no bumps to win.
Good old cowboys
As a break from all of this scary stuff, all these phantoms and zombies, revenge fantasies and criminal investigations, we have another Republican candidate in Raleigh Ritter. Mr. Ritter bills himself as a cattle rancher, 2nd Amendment advocate and anti-abortion stalwart. That means Missouri now has two Republican candidates who farm cows and want guns but no abortion rights, as the incumbent, Mike Parson, who came to office via Greitens’ implosion, counts cattle farming among his past lives, along with sheriff and state senator.
Sad move from Jake
It’s sad to see Jake Zimmerman, long admired as a progressive, running to the right of incumbent St. Louis County Executive Sam Page in his primary campaign. In a campaign email, Zimmerman quotes the odious Post-Dispatch editorial board doing its smarmy, unfair thing at Page’s expense. Zimmerman messaged that “unfortunately, the Post-Dispatch is right: “the county executive's behavior resembles that of his predecessor: evasive, defensive, and the opposite of transparent.” Conflating Page with Stenger – a political criminal produced by the circus of the Post-Dispatch editorial board – is ridiculously unfair. For Zimmerman to campaign on it is very disappointing.
The EYE wants to know now: Will Jake try to run to the right of Mantovani and Page, or just look for some daylight in between them?