Slay's record is 10-2, when it comes to latest endorsements
In baseball terms, St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay’s warm-up game – Tuesday’s primary – went well.
Out of 12 times at bat, he scored hits in 10. And at least one could be classified as a home run.
Slay endorsed 12 candidates, all Democrats, in Tuesday’s primary. Only two failed to win: Alderman Fred Wessels, who lost a bid for state treasurer, and Young Democrats’ activist Martin Casas (also a former Slay aide), who lost his race for the state House.
Slay follows a long line of St. Louis Democrats in Room 200 who have endorsed candidates. And some of his predecessors haven’t had as good a luck with the practice.
The last three-term mayor, Vincent C. Schoemehl Jr., found himself in a fix in the mid-1980s when several of his endorsements backfired – often spawning longtime political enemies in the process.
Schoemehl’s worst misstep was in 1986, when he tried to defeat several other city officials and legislators, including then-state Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr. and Circuit Attorney Freeman Bosley Jr. Clay’s father, then-U.S. Rep. William L. Clay Sr., became an outspoken Schoemehl critic and help derail the mayor’s bid for governor in 1992.
Slay, who expects to seek an unprecedented fourth term next year, has apparently succeeded -- for the most part -- in avoiding such political missteps.
He also appears to have resolved any lingering tensions from the disputes, some involving race, that roiled part of his first term in office.
In 2003, at least one city alderman (also a Clay) called Slay a racist. By 2005, close to a dozen of the region’s top African-American officeholders had endorsed the mayor for re-election. They included now-U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr.
After Tuesday, such a list of political allies is likely to be even longer as Slay prepares for his next turn at bat. His active support for Clay and a number of the region’s other victorious African-American Democrats is likely to make it much tougher for any potential mayoral rivals, notably St. Louis Board of Aldermen President Lewis Reed.
Reed, who is African-American, had honored a longstanding friendship with U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, and he stuck with the congressman during his unsuccessful bid to oust Clay. The political fallout from Reed’s personal loyalty will, no doubt, be closely watched.
Slay appeared in a TV ad for Clay, and he gave money to help now state Sen.-elect Jamilah Nasheed in her successful bid to oust state Sen. Robin Wright-Jones. Nasheed and Clay will no doubt be influential mayoral supporters in 2013, and they will likely help fend off any efforts to knock Slay out of office.
The mayor's success in Tuesday's primary may well outweigh any political damage he's incurred during his administration's recent battles with police and firefighters over pensions and pay. Police and firefighters' groups, by the way, backed Carnahan on Tuesday.
Slay has said his endorsements were based on what he believed were the best choices for the city and the region. But Tuesday’s results also signal that he made good political choices as well.