Juanita Head Walton and her husband Elbert have become political powers in North St. Louis city and county. That’s a shame because, although they are Democrats, they do much to harm the Democratic Party.
Juanita is the state rep from district 81. Elbert holds no official elected position, but is the power behind a slate of candidates who will challenge incumbent Democrats in primaries next year. Right there, the problem begins. It’s difficult to say at present how many candidates for various offices Elbert will promote, but word on the street has it somewhere in the neighborhood of twenty. Juanita plans to challenge Tim Green in district 13 for the state senate. Other Walton candidates plan, for starters, to oppose Gina Walsh (state rep, St. Louis), Tony George (state rep, Florissant), and Mike O’Mara (county council).
Other Walton candidates are likely to run to become committemen, fire board members, school board members, and such like. A later post will explain how Elbert has made use of putting his people in such positions.
So incumbent Democrats in the north part of town will waste time and money on primaries. That’s money that could have been spent in the general. Elbert and Juanita would justify running candidate after candidate against incumbent Democrats by saying that they want African-American elected officials, and I don’t doubt that that goal plays a part in their activities.
But even if you’re inclined to excuse their assault on their own party on the grounds that they have a right to want more black representation in public office, the Waltons have other marks against them. First, a portion of their funding comes from the Republican party.
Before the primaries for the 2006 election, Rex Sinquefield’s Show-Me Institute and his other organization,All Children Matter (at the time headed by Ed Martin, now Blunt’s chief of staff), made it known that they would contribute several thousand dollars to any pro-voucher candidate who would challenge Maria Chappelle-Nadal. And they got a taker: someone from Walton’s camp. News of this travesty so enraged local Dems that Maria had tons of support and won the primary easily. But still, all those Democratic dollars and all that Democratic shoe leather could have been expended elsewhere.
The Walton Unity PAC regularly receives Republican donations, and why not? Republicans may not have the best policy ideas, but you know they always have plenty of jack to spread around. A wise use of their extra dough is to give it to Democrats and encourage them to fight among themselves.
It does, indeed, look as if we’ll be fighting among ourselves because this time around some of the Dems have decided it’s necessary to fight back. A group of them have convened once already–and will meet every two weeks from here on out–with the express goal of planning strategy to keep the Waltons from taking incumbents by surprise next year, as they did in several races last year.
The way their committee sees it, Democrats should work to keep incumbents in office, unless those office holders have shown they don’t deserve party support. To regularly challenge incumbents–sometimes with Republican money, no less!–destroys our unity and sometimes hands the Republicans victories they don’t deserve.