Rachel Storch decided to get married instead of running for re-election in HD 64, St. Louis. That’s our loss.
In a district that Storch won with 92.5 percent of the vote last time out, we can discount the Constitution candidate she whomped in ’08 as well as the two Republicans who’ve filed. Four Democrats are vying for the spot.
Dan Schesch can also be discounted. Not that he doesn’t have some good ideas; he just doesn’t have a chance to win. Schesch got only 9 percent of the vote when he ran for St. Louis City Treasurer two years ago. Undaunted by getting squashed in that election, he’s running for state rep. But he’s doing so without a cadre of volunteers–it’s he, himself and him doing the work. As for funds, he’s pulled in $3200 as of the end of the second quarter.
Which isn’t going to go very far against Susan Carlson, the front runner. She’s the one who has garnered the geld in this race–more than $58,000 at the end of the quarter. Carlson’s husband is a big Democratic donor, and she has a network that includes the women’s groups based in the County. She also has a high powered campaign consultant that her connections and money have brought in, and she has the endorsements of Rachel Storch (the outgoing state representative of this district), Joan Bray, Mayor Francis Slay, Harriett’s List, and so on.
She’s already sent out one professional looking mailer. It might not be the sort of piece that grabs you and sticks in your mind, but neither was it tacky. No doubt, there will be more mailers to come.
Her weaknesses are those of a front runner whose lead is built on money and connections: she’s not knocking doors right now, and she doesn’t have a strong presence in the city, which is most of the geographical area of the district. And some of her endorsements and connections carry with them a certain amount of backlash. For example, the scuttlebutt is that the women’s groups in the County didn’t necessarily back Shelley Welsch in her successful run for mayor of University City, and part of this district is in U. City. So Welsch backers are, to some extent, returning the snub to Carlson on what should be her home turf.
Unlike Carlson and Schesch, Dave Leipholtz is a young guy making his first foray into the political arena. He’s got more money than anybody else except Carlson–but his 6,000 bucks is a fer piece off from Carlson’s 58 thou. He’s not a natural politician–there will be no Jeff Smith comparisons on personality and ease in front of the public. But he is a former teacher, and he does have some devoted kids running around knocking doors for him. That can be a plus and a minus. He’s supposedly knocked every door in his universe of targeted voters twice and is nearly complete with the third round now. But an acquaintance of mine tells me that when a couple of the kids knocked on his door on a hot day, they had no followup when he said he knew who Dave was. They didn’t ask for his vote and didn’t ask him to do anything besides take a piece of literature. Leipholtz does have
the backing of City Democrats chair Brian Wahby [EDIT: I’ve been informed that Brian is not officially supporting a candidate in this race. -Clark] and the endorsement of the City Labor Club. Also, his campaign is being run by the same man who is running State Senator Joe Keaveny’s. (Keaveny, by the way, has a primary challenger that he’s taking seriously, a retired policeman named James Long that the policeman’s association put up to run because Keaveny sponsored the local control of St. Louis police bill.) So Leipholtz and Keaveny are running some joint canvasses.
Amy Hilgemann’s a real wild card here. She is the wife of the former state rep from the district before Storch took over after he was termed out. She and her husband, Bob, moved to St. Louis just north of the Botanical Garden in the late 1970s, just as the neighborhood really started to go downhill. She has a PhD in public policy, and she has participated in a lot of elections, both with her husband and in her own elections to the school board. She started on the school board as a reformer with some good ideas, but she rubbed a good many people the wrong way. People think of her as maybe a little bit crazy but definitely tenacious. She has personally knocked around 1,000 doors, and together with the volunteers from the ward organization, she’s knocked a lot more. She has the endorsement of some of the citywide electeds, like President of the Board of Alderman Lewis Reed and Collector of Revenue Greg Daly. On the other hand, she hasn’t filed a statement of her contributions and expenses with the Missouri Ethics Commission, so presumably she’s taken in less than $500.
Who knows how this is all going to shake out. More than likely, Carlson will win, but if she doesn’t get much face to face time with primary voters, Leipholtz or Hilgemann could sneak in.
Correction: For some reason, Hilgemann has two IDs at the Missouri Ethics Commission. The one I didn’t see at first shows that she has taken in almost $3500 altogether and spent all but $900 of that on printing and holding a fundraiser.