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Green Party candidate for St. Louis treasurer endorses a Democratic rival

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, July 27, 2012 - Donald E. Devivo, a Green Party candidate for St. Louis city treasurer, shook up the latest candidate forum by announcing that he’s endorsing one of the Democrats:  Brian Wahby, who’s also chairman of the city Democratic Central Committee.

Wahby said later he had no advance warning of Devivo’s decision.

Devivo’s endorsement came at the end of Thursday night’s 90-minute forum in the AT&T building's auditorium. He participated with all four Democrats, who sat on the stage in ballot order: Alfred J. Wessels, Jr.; Brian A. Wahby; Tishaura O. Jones and Jeffrey L. Boyd.

Wessels and Boyd are city aldermen, while Jones is a state legislator. Wahby is a former employee in the treasurer's office.

Two other treasurer candidates didn’t participate in the forum, including fellow Green Party candidate Anthony Stevens -- who will compete against Devivo in the Aug. 7 primary -- and Republican Timothy Todd Bachmann.

All seven are competing to succeed longtime city Treasurer Larry Williams, a Democrat who is stepping down after more than 30 years.

Because St. Louis is overwhelmingly Democratic, the Aug. 7 Democratic nominee is favored in November. But in recent citywide elections, the Green Party candidates often have outperformed the Republicans.

The forum – like most of the earlier appearances featuring the candidates -- focused primarily on their views of how best to manage the seven city-owned parking garages, which are overseen by the city treasurer’s office.

Devivo – who has been city Green Party chairman --  told the audience early in the forum that there have been some internal struggles within the Green Party ranks.  While not going into detail, he said that if he wins the primary, he will run in the general election. But if he doesn't win, Devivo said he will support one of the Democrats.

Then, during the candidates’ summary statements at the end, Devivo announced that he was endorsing Wahby and thought he was the best candidate for the post.

None of the other candidates said anything in response, including Wahby, who looked stunned.

Afterwards, Devivo left and couldn’t be reached for comment.

Said Wahby: “I’m very pleased to have the endorsement of the chairman of the Green Party in St. Louis.”

This isn't the first time Devivo has diminished his own chances for victory. Near the tail end of a candidate forum last week organized by the Skinker-DeBaliviere Community Council, Don Devivo sparked a round of laughter after acknowledging his almost-certain electoral fate.

He said a new city treasurer "can really help our city, and we’re going to support this new treasurer.”

“Whether it be me, which we really don’t think that’s going to happen,” he said.

Jason Rosenbaum of the Beacon staff contributed information for this article.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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