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Shades of 2004 when Russ Carnahan edged Jeff Smith out of the race for Gephardt’s seat. Carnahan had one virtue: his name. But that was enough–barely–to overcome the intense grassroots canvassing of Smith’s campaign.

The question is whether Tom Eagleton’s nephew, Steve, will successfully put his name to the same use in his race for the Democratic nomination in SD 15, the district Michael Gibbons is relinquishing in his quest to be the next AG. The thing is, though, that Eagleton’s bid will confront a speed bump four foot sinkhole in the road that Carnahan didn’t have to get past: Eagleton is already being painted as a carpetbagger.  

He’s from Fulton, Georgia, where he renewed his realtor’s license a couple of months ago. He has no realtor’s license here, so apparently his livelihood is still in the Atlanta area. It’s true that Eagleton bought property in St. Louis a couple of years ago and in Kirkwood, specifically, last October–two or three weeks before the deadline so that he’d be qualified to run there. Those purchases give him the deed to some property, but they don’t really make him a resident. In fact, so far no one’s found any record of him ever voting in Missouri. (Ask Brock Olivo how much trouble that issue has caused him.)

For a couple of years now, Eagleton has been looking to move back here, where his name would give him political leverage, in order to run for office. He’s been shopping around, having considered running for the County Council from South County a couple of years ago. Word is that more recently he looked at House races in District 94 (Lavender vs. Stream) and 82 (Schupp vs. Frank or Plescia). But the issue of his being a, shall we say, expatriate (someone raised in St. Louis and now living abroad) may have kept him from being welcomed with open arms by those he talked to.

Enter Jim Trout. “Trout” isn’t a tough name to remember, but it’s no Eagleton moniker either. Still, Trout decided to jump into the primary race. He felt as if he were coming a little bit late to the party as an uninvited guest, but he believed that district 15 needed a more convincing candidate than Eagleton.

The backstory on the race is that the Dems had had hopes of taking Gibbons’ seat from the Rs, and some of them were bitterly disappointed when their golden boy, Democrat Kevin Gunn, was lured away to a seat on the Public Service Commission, a bit of bait cleverly dangled by Blunt near the beginning of the filing period.

Eagleton jumped in to fill the gap left by Gunn, but this will be a chancy district to win, and Trout was not convinced that Eagleton would necessarily be a serious candidate.

Oh really? And what makes Trout so sure that he’d be a better candidate? For the answer to that question, you have to come back on Monday.