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North St. Louis County Carried Stenger Across The Finish Line

Steve Stenger, Democrat, left, and Rick Stream, Republican, are running for St. Louis County executive.
Photos courtesy of the candidates

If it weren’t for voters in north St. Louis County, Democrat Steve Stenger wouldn’t have won the tight Nov. 4 contest for county executive.

Stenger lost most of his home turf in south St. Louis County to Republican Rick Stream. 

Stenger carried north county strongly, but the percentage was far less than County Executive Charlie Dooley's performance in 201o. Even so, Stenger's north county showing -- despite opposition from north county Democrats -- proved crucial to victory.

The St. Louis County Election Board released Tuesday its township-by-township breakdown of the votes cast for all contests on the Nov. 4 ballot. It also certified the final vote count and sent it on to the Missouri secretary of state’s office.

The final count gave Stenger a few more votes than reported on election night. The certified tally shows him with an edge of 1,854 votes over Stream.

Stream said in a statement Tuesday that his campaign has yet to decide whether to seek a recount.

But the results offer some sobering news for Stenger, and reasons for optimism for Republicans.

Stream carried 12 of the county’s 28 townships. But more significantly, he outpolled Stenger in all but one of the townships in south county, which Stenger has represented on the County Council since 2009.

In Tesson Ferry Township, for example, Stream won 58 percent of the vote.

Republicans often have done well in south St. Louis County, but Stenger had been expected to do better because that’s his home base.  Stenger had carried those townships by huge margins in the Aug. 5 primary, when he handily ousted Dooley.

Stream also performed well in the county’s central corridor, narrowly carrying Clayton Township. And he benefited from huge margins in west St. Louis County, which also saw some of the county’s highest turnout of voters.

But Stenger prevailed because of stronger margins in north county townships.  In Spanish Lake township, he collected almost 63 percent of the vote. Even in Ferguson Township, torn apart for months by unrest over the police shooting, Stenger received support from 62 percent of the voters.

Still, that was far below the traditional Democratic performance in north county. Four years ago, Dooley won 81 percent of the vote in Ferguson Township.  In Spanish Lake Township, Dooley’s 2010 tally amounted to 79.3 percent of the vote.

Dooley needed those huge tallies in 2010 because he lost bad in south and west county to Republican Bill Corrigan.

Stenger’s lower performance in north county was likely tied to some Democrats’ ire over his ouster of  Dooley in the Aug. 5 primary.  A bloc of Democratic politicians in north county also had endorsed Stream, in part because of their anger over Stenger’s ties to county Prosecutor Bob McCulloch.  McCulloch is overseeing the grand jury probe of the Ferguson police shooting that resulted in the death of Michael Brown.

Stream collected 24 percent of the vote in Ferguson Township, which is eight percentage points more than his 2010 counterpart, Corrigan.

By the way, McCulloch – who had no major party opposition -- didn’t seem to suffer much at the polls. In Ferguson Township, for example, he collected only 112 fewer votes than Stenger.

GOP wave affects assessor’s race

County Assessor Jake Zimmerman, the Democratic incumbent, ran a low-key campaign for re-election since his Republican challenger – Andrew Ostrowski – wasn’t very active.  The county Republican Party was not assisting Ostrowski because he was not the party’s preferred candidate, even though he had won the Aug. 5 primary.

Overall, Zimmerman collected almost 60 percent of the county-wide vote. However, Ostrowski carried a significant number of townships.  In west St. Louis County, Ostrowski received 62.8 percent of the vote in Wild Horse Creek Township, and 59 percent in the Missouri River Township.


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.
Brent is the senior data visual specialist at St. Louis Public Radio.