Primary victory only half the battle; November election is the goal
St. Louis County – Steve Stenger, endorsed by Labor and backed by hundreds of union volunteers, ousted incumbent Charlie Dooley in the Democratic primary election for St. Louis County executive Aug. 5.
Demonstrating the clout of Organized Labor in St. Louis County, Stenger won with 66 percent of the countywide vote, carrying most of the county’s 28 townships. He will face Republican Rick Stream in November.
“To my friends in Labor, who represent the working men and women of St. Louis County, I am proud to stand with you tonight,” Stenger said when final results were announced on election night. “I'm ready to work alongside you, to bring good jobs to our county’s working families.”
The following day, Stenger made a surprise visit to the St. Louis Building Trades Council delegate meeting to thank them for their unwavering support.
“I would not be standing her today if it were not for your support. Labor sent a message last night, a strong message: ‘Labor is in the room and Labor gets it done!’”
To those in the Dooley camp who said the loss of Labor’s support would make little difference, Jeff Aboussie, the Council’s executive secretary-treasurer begged to differ.
Stenger bested Dooley by a vote of 84,980 to 39,027, a margin of more than 2-to-1.
“When someone says Labor doesn’t matter, let them look at that tally,” Aboussie said. “This is proof that when Labor speaks with one voice, we’re very effective.”
Building Trades President Mike Mahler (Sprinkler Fitters Local 1 business manager), reiterated the point: “When people demonstrate they support Organized Labor, we return the favor with hard work to help them get elected, whether it’s in St. Louis County or Jefferson City.”
LOOKING TO NOVEMBER
While the sense of victory was strong election night and in the week that followed, the serious business of winning in November was constantly present:
“We’re halfway home,” said veteran County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch on election night. McCulloch won his own primary election by a margin of 71 to 28 percent. McCulloch and Stenger campaigned together as a team that will bring positive change to St. Louis County.
“With Steve and I working as a team, the future is bright for St. Louis County,” McCulloch added.
Stenger thanked McCulloch for his support and being his mentor.
UNION COUNCILMEN ENCOURAGED
Two union members who are Democratic county councilmen with Stenger are looking to the future:
• Mike O’Mara (4th District), an international representative for the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters and a Local 562 member: “We’ve had a county council that works for working people, and much of that has been stimulated by Steve’s efforts. Now we need to get him elected in November.”
• Pat Dolan (5th District), president, Sprinkler Fitters Local 268: “With Steve in charge, we’ll be able to move the county into a brighter future; he knows how to work with the county council. Now we have to keep the momentum moving into November.”
“This victory is a great effort on behalf of all union members and all working families who turned out to work, and vote for Steve,” said Pat White, president-elect of the St. Louis Labor Council. “Organized Labor carried the day for him. We can trust him. We must now unite the
Democratic Party and get Steve, and other important political leadership, elected in November.”
In the weeks and days leading up to the primary, various Labor Clubs held Get Out The Vote rallies, sending hundreds of volunteers into the community to post yard signs and knock on doors to spread the “time for a change” message to elect Stenger.
“Everyone worked hard at the grassroots to make this happen,” said John Stiffler, business manager, Insulators and Allied Trades Local 1, one of the many union men and women working the polls on Election Day. “Now we’re going to re-double our efforts and focus on November to get Steve elected.”
Mike Walter, business manager for IBEW Local 1439, said the election was a reflection of the St. Louis area’s status as a working class town, where union families back their labor-friendly candidates.
“We have a national reputation as a great labor town,” Walter said. “This proves it.”