St. Louis Oracle

St. Louis-based political forecasting plus commentary on politics and events from a grassroots veteran with a mature, progressive anti-establishment perspective.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Who was--and wasn't--at Gay Pride parade

St. Louis area politicians flocked to take part in what organizers called the biggest Gay Pride parade ever in St. Louis on Sunday.

In the spirited contest for the 4th District senate seat, all but one campaign had some representation in the parade, including two or three of the candidates. Frontrunners Jeff Smith and Amber Boykins appeared in the parade, and it was difficult to tell whether or not Yaphett El-Amin was in the car bearing her signs (a closed sedan containing two people waiving). While the campaign of Derio Gambaro (on record opposing gay rights) did not have an entry in the parade, a car carrying an alderman displayed his signs (more later). No presence was noted for the fifth candidate, former alderman Kenny Jones.

Mayor Francis Slay, Comptroller Darlene Green and Aldermanic President Jim Shrewsbury (wearing a Stonewall Democrats t-shirt) were all in the parade, as were License Collector and aspiring Collector of Revenue Gregg Daly and his aspiring replacement, Alderman Mike Millan. Other notables included State Sen. Maida Coleman, Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, and several aldermen and state reps.

No candidate for statewide office either appeared or was represented in the parade. While neither U.S. Senator Jim Talent nor his likely Democratic opponent, Democrat Claire McCaskill, made an appearance, a possible opponent of both was busy on the sidelines. Lydia Lewis, who is seeking the Progressive Party nomination for that office, was spotted on the east side of Grand collecting signatures to get her party on the ballot. No candidates for state auditor made a parade appearance.

The Smith campaign entourage had a little surprise for the audience. The passenger in a convertible with signage for Smith waived enthusiastically at the crowd, but the guy wasn’t Smith. The candidate himself trailed the car by about 30 feet, coming to the sidelines to shake hands with a visibly supportive crowd. It was a Jimmy Carter moment.

On the downside for Smith, the car bearing signage for Gambaro was courtesy of 23rd Ward Alderwoman Kathleen Hanrahan, whose ward organization headed by Francis Slay has endorsed Smith. One wonders whether and how serious a split may have developed in that ward’s organization, at least in this contest.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Jeff Smith on St. Louis Mag's A-List

"Jefferson City may want to brace itself for some unexpected incoming energy," says the new July issue of St. Louis Magazine. The "Players" section of its "A List" names 4th District senatorial hopeful Jeff Smith as the "up-and-coming politician." (Take that, Mike McMillan!) The publication touts Smith as "new-school in his grassroots tactics, using the Web, coffee klatches and a legion of volunteers; raising his money through small donations; and urging urban renewal, social justice and environmental stewardship." In naming 136 people, places and things on the list, the self-described "premier lifestyle magazine" of St. Louis (with the help of 23 separate reporters) claims not to be "picking favorites," but "singling out the stars."

Perhaps more interesting will be whether (and if so, how) this has any impact on the campaign. While it's nice to have such nice things said about one right before a key election, it might also provide fodder for whispering campaigns and anti-Smith blog commentators who deride the city candidate's Clayton/Ladue background. The magazine touts itself as reaching an audience of "active, affluent adults," with a six-figure median income and nearly a third being millionaires. With a Democratic primary electorate that loves to hate "tax cuts for the rich," this may well be a tempting target for Roosevelt-era class warriors who haven't noticed that rich people in urban areas are now just as likely to be Democrats as Republicans. Moreover, Smith shares the St. Louis Magazine stage with such unLadue notables as DJ Needles, DJ Bishop, Praix, Bennie Smith, Hamiet Bluiett (surprise winner over Erin Bode for jazz artist), City Museum, Venice Cafe, Star Clipper comics, South Side Cyclery, Volpi's, Berix Coffeehouse and Deli, and most ironically, Missouri Baking Co., the business of the family of fellow 4th-District candidate Derio Gambaro.
The smart move would be for Smith not to tout the distinction and for his opponents not to take cheap shots at it.

Other notable A-List inclusions for political junkies include Sam Koplar as "mover and shaker," photographer Suzy Gorman as "image consultant," and The Royale as the best casual bar.