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State Rep. Shamed Dogan Jumps Into St. Louis County Executive Contest

Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, seen during the final day of the legislative session at the Missouri State Capitol Building on Friday, May 14, 2021, in Jefferson City.
File photo / Daniel Shular
Special to St. Louis Public Radio
Rep. Shamed Dogan, R-Ballwin, attends the final day of the 2021 legislative session at the Missouri Capitol on May 14.

State Rep. Shamed Dogan will run for St. Louis County executive next year, a contest in which the Ballwin Republican says he’s confident he’ll be able to build the bipartisan coalition necessary to prevail.

Winning the support of Democrats will be crucial for Dogan since the county has taken a sharp turn against the GOP in recent elections.

“I can really bring people together, whether they're Republican, Democrat or Independent — or whether they live in north, south or west county,” Dogan said. “And I want to help get our county's economy growing again.”

Dogan is a native of Northwoods who has served in a west St. Louis County-based House district since 2015. He is the only Black Republican in the Missouri legislature. Before he won election to the House, Dogan served as a member of the Board of Aldermen in Ballwin and as a staffer to then-U.S. Sen. Jim Talent.

“I have been in public service at the local, state and federal levels,” Dogan said. “And I know from experience that quality leadership in government can make people’s lives better. And it’s been really disturbing to see what’s been going on in St. Louis County government.”

Dogan noted that during his time in the legislature, he’s been a major voice pushing for overhauling Missouri’s criminal justice system. He said making it easier to establish small businesses in St. Louis County would be one of the many priorities of his administration.

Should he win the GOP primary next year, Dogan could face St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, who won election last year to complete the unfinished term of Steve Stenger. Page will have to run in 2022 if he wants to serve for a full four-year term.

Page’s tenure as county executive has been dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. A number of his actions have elicited opposition, most recently his push for a countywide mask mandate. Page has also had a strained relationship with some members of St. Louis County’s Black political community, including Councilwomen Rita Days and Shalonda Webb.

“I think what we really learned is that Sam Page can't bring people together,” Dogan said.

But Page managed to navigate a competitive Democratic primary in 2020 in which his COVID-19 response was a decisive issue. And should he win the Democratic primary next year, he may have an advantage against any Republican because of St. Louis County’s move to Democrats. In last year’s election, more than 60% of county residents voted for Joe Biden.

“He has an uphill battle,” said Michelle Hornish, a spokeswoman for Page’s campaign. “It's going to be a difficult task for a candidate in Democratic St. Louis County to run on the Republican General Assembly's record.”

Page may be able to scour through Dogan’s voting record to try to make a case that he’s too conservative for St. Louis County. That’s what happened in 2014, when Stenger, then the Democratic nominee, criticized GOP opponent Rick Stream for his General Assembly voting record. Stream narrowly lost to Stenger, who later went to prison on corruption charges.

After noting it was interesting that Page could try to use a tactic similar to one Stenger used in his political campaigns, Dogan said the political environment may be favorable to Republicans in 2022.

“We have President Biden’s approval ratings already declining, and I don’t see that improving by next year,” Dogan said. “And Republicans always have a turnout advantage in midterm elections when Democrats are president.”

The 2022 primary will take place on Aug. 2.

Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum 

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.