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Politically Speaking: Zimmerman seeks to avoid 'muck and mud' in bid for attorney general

Jake Zimmerman
Jason Rosenbaum | St. Louis Public Radio

St. Louis County Assessor Jake Zimmerman, now a Democratic candidate for Missouri attorney general, joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum for our latest Politically Speaking podcast.

It’s Zimmerman’s second appearance on the show, but his first since the current candidate field was set. The Politically Speaking crew has now hosted all four of the major-party contenders for attorney general.

Zimmerman, a St. Louis County native,  faces former Cass County Prosecutor Teresa Hensley in the Aug. 2 Democratic primary. The victor will compete in November against one of the two Republicans now duking it out: state Sen. Kurt Schaefer or law professor Josh Hawley.

Zimmerman, 42, is a lawyer (Harvard Law School) and worked in the state attorney general’s office for part of 2002-2003, dealing with consumer protection matters. He then shifted to work for then-Gov. Bob Holden in last years of his term.

Zimmerman was elected to the Missouri House in 2006, and served until he was elected county assessor in a special election in 2011. He was re-elected last fall.

His first two TV ads highlight his interest in consumer protection and in “protecting the public from the bad guys.”  Zimmerman notes that’s part of  the attorney general’s job, along with serving as the state’s highest law-enforcement official.

“This is stuff that makes a real difference in people’s lives,’’ he said.

Zimmerman is critical of the focus of the two GOP candidates on ideological issues and their accusations that the rival either helped the Chinese buy Missouri land or aided terrorists in court.

He accused the Republicans of “spending so much time talking about what is not the job of the office.”

“This office is all about fighting for fairness’’ for the public, he said.

Among Zimmerman’s other comments on the podcast:

  • He’s critical of the roughly $2 million in donations that Schaefer and Hawley have each gotten from financier Rex Sinquefield (Schaefer) and businessman David Humphreys (Hawley). “Real people in this state see that a lot of their politicians are for sale to the highest bidder,’’ Zimmerman said.
  • He’s pledging to work as a mediator and conciliator in hopes of easing the racial tensions, some directed at law enforcement, that have plagued the St. Louis region and other parts of the state.
  • He says a key role of the attorney general is to be seen as “an honest broker.”
  • He’s pleased that, so far, he and Hensley have run positive campaigns. “I’m not interested in getting into the muck and the mud of the other side,’’ he said.
  • Regardless of which Democrat wins the nomination,  Zimmerman expects the contest with the GOP nominee to turn nasty in the fall.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Jake Zimmerman on Twitter: @Jake4Mo

Music: "Under the Cover of Darkness" by The Strokes

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.
Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.