Senate district five is as downtown as it gets: its eastern edge is the Mississip. It’s a district where the Republicans may not even put up a candidate, so the primary is the general election. And in the primary, we have two black candidates already declared (Robin and Rodney) and a white candidate, Tom Villa, likely to enter the race.
District five is a majority African-American district, but not by a huge margin (58 percent), thus making any white candidate a potential spoiler. Even if Vila, who is a conservative Democrat, doesn’t enter the race, Robin says she would expect a spoiler.
The split of the black vote distresses African-American leaders in the city, inasmuch as the other two senate seats from within the city limits are held by whites: Jeff Smith and Harry Kennedy. The notion of three white senators from a city with such a high proportion of African-Americans has them wringing their hands. Still, no white candidate can afford to be cocky about winning. Both Hubbard and Wright Jones can garner lots of votes.
Robin, as the only progressive in the race, will appeal to the city’s liberal central corridor. The Central West End includes a lot of white voters. Nor is Rodney expected to confine himself to North St. Louis where he’s best known. He’ll work that central corridor as well, and insiders all agree that he’s a workhorse of a campaigner.
Robin also expects that she’ll draw votes from voters of both races as the only woman in the primary. As far as she’s concerned, being a woman and a progressive will be a strong combo.
As for Rodney’s stronghold, North St. Louis, Robin vows that she’s not scared of that. She was raised there, lived there until seven years ago, and has lots of community ties.
She wouldn’t be in the race if she didn’t think she had a good chance to win, but, even aside from the threat of a spoiler, Rodney is tough competition. One reason is that Robin got a late start with fundraising. In September, she took a fall while exercising and hit her face. She didn’t want to start the race, as she says, looking like the elephant man. Right now she has about $4000, with commitments from many small donors that should amount to something in the five figures for the coming quarter.
While she was waiting to get started, though, Rodney sewed up a bunch of endorsements, including Lacy Clay’s–and raised $82,000. It’s true that $30,000 of that came from Rex Sinquefield and may have to be given back if the Ethics Commission rules that over-limit funds must be returned. But if so, Sinquefield is set to return those funds via the 100 PACs he just set up.
Let’s see then. Rodney has money, energy, and popularity in his House district. Robin has progressive views and supporters, community ties in Rodney’s district as well as her own, and the advantage of being the only woman in the race. The two of them face the likelihood of a white spoiler. It’s going to be a hell of a horse race.