Following up on last week’s news of 5th Senate district candidate (and current House Democratic Whip) Connie Johnson’s possible residency problems, the St. Louis American’s Political Eye has some backstory that connects the story to Johnson’s frosty relationship with Firefighters Local 73.
If you haven’t been following this story, documents have just surfaced that cast doubt on Connie Johnson maintaining a legal residence within her current House district, let alone the Senate seat she aspires to. And by “just surfaced”, I mean right after Johnson filed at the last minute for a run at the 5th District seat, somebody sent a packet of documents pertaining to her residence to several local media outlets. The campaigns of Connie Johnson’s opponents in the race, Rodney Hubbard and Robin Wright-Jones, have both denied involvement.
More below the flip.
Photo of Connie Johnson speaking at 2007 Take Back America Conference courtesy of Progressive Majority Flickr page.
In the American’s version of the story, Johnson rented out some portion of her house to a firefighter named William Keys (one of the few African American members of Firefighters Local 73), a housing arrangement that went sour when Keys allegedly did not pay $3000 in overdue rent. Keys apparently shopped the residence information to Local 73 in advance of Johnson’s candidate sit-down with the local. An interesting tangent to the story is that Local 73 supported Keys when then-Chief Sherman George tried to have Keys fired for not having a valid driver’s license, (it’s a job requirement for all firemen), and the sit-down with Local 73 resulted in Johnson’s refusal to accept an endorsement, should one even be offered, because of Sherman George’s ouster.
This new story just adds some more dimensions to an already murky situation. Did the local get bad info from a member and confront Johnson with it, erupting into a spat at the sit-down? Or did she broach the Sherman George situation at the meeting, and the local thought they had an ace up their sleeve with the residency card? Or was somebody else responsible for the oppo research?
As far as the effect of Johnson’s residency on the race, I don’t see why she would lose purely on the basis of this story, as long as she’s not disqualified. How many people remembered on the day of the 2006 primary in the 4th that Jeff Smith had just moved back from New Hampshire the year before to establish residence in the district? Even with his rivals reminding voters, Jeff Smith lapped the field. So as an accomplished politician and lawyer, it’s certainly not inconceivable that Johnson could overcome this. More problematic for her is the fact that her rivals have a huge headstart in endorsements and cash on hand, especially Rodney Hubbard.