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McCulloch's Campaign Ads Also Cite His Support For Stenger

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch
Courtesy of Bob McCulloch's office

St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch is confident enough about his own re-election that he’s taken the unusual step of using his campaign ads to promote Steve Stenger, a fellow Democrat running for St. Louis County executive.

On radio and on television, McCulloch is dedicating a few seconds in his 30-second ads to make clear that Stenger shares his view that “the conflicts and the corruption’’ in county government needs to end.

"Together with Steve Stenger, we will restore the county's integrity,'' McCulloch saysin the TV ad's closing sentence.

McCulloch's actions are highly unusual for campaign ads, which usually focus on the candidate who produced the ad -- or the opposition.  Rarely do candidates include endorsements directed at other contests.

McCulloch explains why he mentions Stenger: “Here’s why I’ll hope you vote for me and also…we’ve got other issues in county government that we need to get squared away’’ and Stenger will help McCulloch fix them.

McCulloch made waves a year ago when he announced that he wasn’t supporting St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley’s re-election and would back Stenger instead.

McCulloch delivered a powerful speech at Stenger's kickoff.The prosecutor also is featured in one of Stenger's most powerful attack ads against Dooley.

Some Dooley allies are upset over McCulloch's ad and say they'll look for evidence of improper coordination with the Stenger campaign. Stenger has said he has had no knowledge or involvement in McCulloch's own campaign ads.

A key theme in Stenger’s campaign has been that “10 years is long enough,’’ referring to Dooley’s tenure (which will be 11 years as of late October).

Credit Bill Greenblatt/UPI
Steve Stenger shakes hands with Bob McCulloch at Stenger's kickoff in 2013.

But Dooley and his allies have noted that McCulloch has been in office for more than two decades.  McCulloch says, though, that there’s a difference.

He said he's gone "without any hint of any kind of scandal or any corruption or any unethical activity”  and added that the same wasn’t true of Dooley’s administration, where there have been several FBI investigations. (None of the probes is believed to have been directed personally at Dooley.)

McCulloch, 62, has been in office since 1991.  He has resisted Democratic pressure to run for higher office, saying he’s happy with his current post.

In his ad, he highlights his focus on fighting crime, citing the fact that the crime rate in St. Louis County is at its lowest since 1968.

Broadnax challenging McCulloch in Democratic primary

The lack of controversy surrounding McCulloch’s tenure is likely the chief reason he has no Republican opponent this fall. But McCulloch does have a primary challenger on Aug. 5: Leslie Broadnax is a lawyer who currently heads the county’s Board of Equalization, which oversees property assessments.

The victor of the Democratic primary is virtually guaranteed to win election in November.

Credit Provided
Leslie Broadnax

Although she’s a Dooley appointee, Broadnax says her campaign for county prosecutor has nothing to do with the Dooley-Stenger contest. Rather, she says that “it’s time for change’’ and McCulloch has been in office long enough.

Broadnax, 37, says her legal career has included a stint as a defense lawyer. She currently is the municipal judge in Upland Park, and an adjunct professor in the St. Louis Community College system. She also is the Democratic committeewoman for St. Ferdinand township.

If elected, Broadnax says she wants to look into why some county arrest warrants can take years to process and why the county hasn’t done more with drug courts.

She has been running a radio ad on some area stations and plans to run a TV ad on cable. Broadnax said her ads will only mention her.

Jo Mannies is a freelance journalist and former political reporter at St. Louis Public Radio.