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.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Reed's early mailers miss the mark

Lewis Reed appears to be first out of the box with direct mail for the March 6 Democratic primary for aldermanic president in the City of St. Louis. I received a couple mailings from his campaign this past week. I thought it interesting (and unconventional for an African American politician) that both pieces were printed by a white union shop in southwest city instead of a black-owned business. Perhaps Lew wanted to make a statement by shopping in the back yard of his opponent, incumbent Democrat Jim Shrewsbury. Or perhaps Reed wanted to emphasize that he is a south-sider, whose home is south of I-44.

But enough of the fluff. Let’s get to the content.

The first piece was purely a negative attack piece. It used the “Contact Jim Shrewsbury and tell him . . .” approach commonly used in independent expenditures by special interests that aren’t permitted to advocate directly the election or defeat of a candidate. In fact, the only place Reed’s name appeared was in the legally required “paid for by” disclaimer, and it was a white-on-yellow reverse that seemed to be difficult to read by design. The piece attempted to paint Shrewsbury as “soft on crime,” apparently based on a single budgetary decision by Shrewsbury concerning the circuit attorney’s office, but the mailer doesn’t specify exactly what it refers to.

The lack of specifics may have been because the charge isn’t really true. Shrewsbury’s first television commercial notes than he even turned over his city car to the circuit attorney’s office, but the issue is more complex than that. Budgetary decisions on the E&A Board involve splitting up a revenue pie that isn’t big enough to meet the city’s needs. Shrewsbury backed significant increases for the circuit attorney’s office at the very time that most other city agencies were forced to take cuts. Reed’s piece didn’t bother to mention what part of the city budget he would have cut to make room for even more funding for the circuit attorney.

Not that other opponents haven’t tried before to tag Shrewsbury as “soft on crime.” In Shrewsbury's first re-election campaign in the 16th Ward in 1987 his Republican opponent tried it, but it didn’t work. (Shrewsbury won 62% of the vote in what was then a Republican ward.) Perhaps Reed was trying to copy Darlene Green, who used the tactic more successfully when defeating Shrewsbury for comptroller in 1999.

The second piece was a positive piece, and it was better (except for not mentioning he is running as a Democrat, and a few embarrassing typos that slipped through). It was strong on Reed’s background, but it didn’t offer much about what he would do if elected or how he would do a better job than the guy he wants to replace. It touted the fact that a majority of the board’s members have endorsed him. However, given the general level of mediocrity of the board, that may be faint praise.

This is not an open seat, so Reed needs to convince voters that they ought to fire Shrewsbury. The biggest challenge for Reed’s campaign is that Shrewsbury’s record is actually quite strong. There’s still time to try to make that case, but he hasn’t made it yet.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oracle,

You forgot to point out that the fist mailer looked like it came from the Post-Dispatch.

I was over at a friends house and we happent to talk about the race. He said they hadent recived the post card, but they had. The card was sitting in the living room trash can with the weeks junk-mail.

My friend said he saw the Post-Dispatch line at the top and thought it was some kind of subscription ask.

February 25, 2007 at 12:40 PM  

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