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.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Is mystery Coleman filing a Mac attack?

The mysterious last-day filing of attorney Denise Watson-Wesley Coleman for mayor in a field that was supposed to include another Coleman, Sen. Maida Coleman, has lots of fingers pointing at Mayor Francis Slay for encouraging the former to serve as a stalking horse to hinder the challenge of the latter. Slay vehemently denies any connection.

The motivation for the Slay camp is clear: Split the vote of his most dangerous challenger. It's a long city Democrat tradition. Former Mayor Freeman Bosley, Jr. won his first elective office by unseating Circuit Clerk Joe Roddy in an election when a mysterious unknown candidate named C. Jo Roddy won more votes than the difference between Bosley and the incumbent Roddy.

While I am no fan of the mayor, I think Slay is being honest here. While he stands to benefit from the filing, I don't think he had anything to do with it.

The Post Dispatch today editorially opined that lawyer Coleman just decided all on her own to seek the office. Yeah, right.

Just as plausible: Minnesota Sen.-elect Al Franken is behind the filing in order to further embarrass rival Sen. Norm Coleman.

So, who else would gain from Slay winning a third term? How about the man who isn't there? That would be License Collector Mike McMillan.

Many had expected McMillan to be a last-day challenger to Slay, but he didn't file. My guess is that the field of challengers was too divided for Slay to be toppled. There's an old saying in government and politics: You don't touch the King unless you kill him. McMillan decided he couldn't knock off Slay in this environment. Besides, McMillan is young enough to wait four more years when Slay will either retire voluntarily or be politically weak enough to knock off.

But what if McMillan miscalculated (like Dick Gephardt did in 1992 about the chances of knocking off President George H. W. Bush)? If Maida Coleman's challenge to Slay were successful, then she'd be the incumbent mayor in four years, and McMillan would not be in a position to challenge a fellow African American for the top job. (Yes, I know, Clarence Harmon successfully did just that to Freeman Bosley, Jr. in 1997, but Harmon won with white support, not black support.) Slay's reelection is now also in McMillan's self-interest.

Is there anything in lawyer Coleman's background evidencing a connection to McMillan? Why, yes there is! Ms. Coleman was in the political organization of legendary 19th Ward Committeeman and state senator J.B. "Jet" Banks. And who succeeded to the throne of the late senator's 19th Ward kingdom? Why, Mike McMillan, of course! He represented that ward as alderman before ascending to his current city-wide post.

18 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

This assumes that Mike McMillan could stand living in the city with another 4 years of the SLay debacle.

The 'new' Coleman filing smells more like the bad apples that Slay has surrounded himself with. It's easy to see them pulling something sleazy like that and not telling Slay.

If Mike McMillan is really behind the 'new' Coleman then I have lost all respect for him.

January 6, 2009 at 4:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would find it hard to believe that Mike McMillan would have anything to do with the mystery Coleman.

January 6, 2009 at 9:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If McMillan had filed there would be no crowd--all these others filed, even in the Greens, I believe, because McMillan wouldn't. The anti-Slay crowd would have united behind McMillan, but when he decided to be part of the machine and not run until Slay told him he could, then others entered the race because there needed to be someone. But McMillan won't gain from this because by not running this time he's alienated many of us who would have worked for his victory in 2009. We won't in 2013--we know now his loyalty is to the machine, not the people of St. Louis.

January 6, 2009 at 9:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I left a question on the Post-Dispatch blog announcing former state Supreme Court Ronnie White's assumption of honorary campaign manager for Comptroller Darlene Greene's reelection and I will leave the same question for someone to hopefully answer here: Does the local black community seem to have crossed swords with Mayor Slay b/c it believes that HE personally disrespects its beliefs, rituals, and aspirations or b/c it believes that the entire Slay City Hall administration disrespcts the same by playing the old St. Louis white/black, north/south, rich/poor factions against each other to maintain control?

January 7, 2009 at 3:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a hypothetical...What if Maida (or her advisor) believed she couldn't prevail in a primary? Why not figure out a way to be an independent without alienating Dem voters? Thus she can honorably withdraw from the primary citing shenanigans...still compete in the general after Slay has spent some of his warchest...AND pick up all those Republican city votes that wouldn't vote in the Democrat primary?

January 7, 2009 at 9:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Smart post and take, Oracle.
best, Bill Haas
too complicated for old guy to sign up for id.

January 7, 2009 at 10:08 AM  
Blogger Confluence City said...

Mike McMillan has privately expressed support for Maida and I suspect in the 1st quarter campaign financial disclosures we will see public evidence of support - if not before, in an endorsement. Your argument is fun and based on some sound premises, but there is one false premise that sinks it. Mike actually does care for the city and especially the black community more than he wants to be mayor, and he recognizes Maida in 2009 would be better for St. Louis and especially black St. Louis than Slay in 2009 and McMillan in 2013.

January 7, 2009 at 12:46 PM  
Blogger Confluence City said...

Oh also, re hypothetical "was it really Maida's doing?" musing ... follow the money. Maida doesn't have the money to run two campaigns. Let's see if she raises the money to run one. Stalking horses cost money, which is why people get busted for wire and mail fraud transferring money to them. Jeff Rainford suggested to me that it was Maida's ploy too, but at the same time he insults her by suggesting she didn't file because she couldn't afford the filing fee. It most certainly was not Maida's doing.

January 7, 2009 at 3:11 PM  
Blogger St. Louis Oracle said...

Confluence City:

One's public posture does not necessarily match his real motives. It is also not unusual for politicians with large campaign warchests to devote significant chunks of it to other campaigns which they may not privately support, when they need to maintain the appearance of support in order to retain their own supporters. (C'mon, did y'all buy into the "sincerity" of Hillary's early post-primary support for Obama, when it was in her personal political interest for Obama to lose to McCain?) McMillan's public and even financial support for Maida does not necessarily disprove that he needs for her (and all other Slay challengers) to lose this year.

Maida herself being behind Denise's candidacy was suggested by Anonymous #5 (no relation to Senate Candidate #5), not me. But note that, while same-race or same-issue stalking horses (like Penny Alcott in the Jones-Shrewsbury comptroller contest) require campaign funding to be effective, a same-name stalking horse doesn't need financial support to be effective. No funds (other than the filing fee) were devoted to Clara Jo Roddy's campaign for Circuit Clerk; her mere presence on the ballot was effective all by itself.

I hope Confluence City's confidence in Mike McMillan's character is well founded, but I don't share it. I believe Mac is a Machiavellian opportunist.

Anonymous #4: I can't answer your question, because it needs to come from the black community. But I will observe that both ends of town "play the old St. Louis white/black, north/south, rich/poor factions against each other" game. The north side does so when it challenges a white incumbent who is seriously looking out for its interests (like Pat Dougherty or Jim Shrewsbury) just to replace a white face with a black one. A sign whether the north side wants political racial war or racial peace will be whether a serious black challenger emerges against Sen. Jeff Smith.

January 7, 2009 at 3:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mac has his eyes on the prize but seems to want it handed to him rather than take a chance this go around. Personally I would have loved for him to take the chance and run, that way even if he loses he stood up for the black community AND becomes the main candidate four years later.

The one 800 pound gorilla for Mac will be the appearance in 2011, or earlier, of a strong,well respected, well funded candidate from either the central corridor or from South city who will be running for Mayor.

While I admire Mac for his drive and obvious dedication to the City, I have a hard time supporting him due to the simple fact that I think he needed to grow some balls and run. If he is too cautious with this how will he be able to be a dealmaker for the City at time when we need a leader and not someone who wants it handed to him?

January 7, 2009 at 4:58 PM  
Blogger Confluence City said...

The phantom Coleman has announced three campaign offices. Let's see if she opens them. If she does, that's real money. It's coming from somewhere, not from her. I know Mike and Maida well (I do the EYE column for the American) and can assure you Mike's thoughts are not on thwarting Maida and he would not play the stalking horse card at the expense of a black candidate. Among other reasons, he is very cautious and very devoted to this town, and this is the sort of thing that rots you forever. My focus at the moment is getting election officials to do their job and investigate so the opinion sphere has more to go on than guesswork (which is fun - but guesswork). Read the American today and keep on eye on what I can instigate.

January 8, 2009 at 1:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Post doesn't always get things right. But if the Post Dispatch is correct about Denise Watson-Wesley Coleman's congregation, the one headed by a former educational liason for Slay's office, then this is another interesting co-incidence.

January 8, 2009 at 8:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is this the same Confluence City and Political Eye writer that published a letter to the editor from Percy Green in the paper this week?

He defends McMillan on the blog and then publishes the editorial slamming McMillan for making a deal with Slay not to run against him.

I guess Donald Suggs and Confluence City would do anything to try and make Slay the bad guy.

January 10, 2009 at 5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really wouldn't be difficult in making Slay the bad guy. He has that impression/track record all by himself.

January 11, 2009 at 5:39 PM  
Blogger Clark said...

I can assure everyone here that Denise is very serious about running for mayor and isn't doing it as some sort of spoiler. Through local Obama volunteers, I've heard talk of her mulling a run since early December.

While I was surprised when she filed at the last minute, that was only because I figured on her filing earlier if she was going to run.

Is she a longshot? Yes. Should she have started a campaign earlier in order to establish herself better for a run? Sure. Is she a stalking horse? No. And I don't see why she should defer to people in the established political machines if she wants to make a go of it.

January 13, 2009 at 11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it stunning that anybody is stupid enough to believe that the stalking horse candidate was not placed there by Rainford and Slay's political adviser, what's his name. These two guys are paid thousands and thousands of dollars in salary, and there is only one thing they like to do: bully other people. That is their job description. (Why does Slay need bully boys?) Maida Coleman never had a chance in hell of winning any sort of mayoral election. She can't even spell "mayor." But those two yo-yos, for want of anything better to do, swing to the attack, locate some troglydyte and turn her into a stalking horse. End of story. Then they stand around like Laurel and Hardy and pretend they are innocent, tweedling their ties, looking at the ground and trying to prevent themselves from breaking out in laughter. And everybody believes them. Jeez. St. Louis voters get what they deserve.

January 26, 2009 at 12:38 PM  
Blogger St. Louis Oracle said...

"Slay's political adviser, what's his name" to whom the latest Anonymous refers is probably Richard Callow, head of the PR firm called Public Eye. He shares a residence with Slay's deputy mayor.

I agree that filing a last-minute stalking horse is consistent with Callow's style, but I still don't think he actually did it, because they didn't really need to do it. While Irene Smith would not have intended to be a stalking horse, her candidacy already effectively performed the function of a stalking horse. Besides, running a stalking horse (or being suspected of doing so) is counter-productive in the long run, because it could be quite harmful to Slay's post-mayoral goal of landing a plumb judgeship in which to retire through age 70.

January 26, 2009 at 1:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Oracle, many would love to hear your respected take on the upcoming primary. I am supporting Irene Smith. What do you see happening?

February 22, 2009 at 4:26 PM  

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