(Updated 9 a.m.,Tues., Aug. 5)
As today’s voting gets underway, the two men competing in the region’s hottest primary contest – St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and his Democratic rival, Councilman Steve Stenger – are busily scrounging up support.
Accompanied by his wife and newborn daughter, Stenger showed up around 8 a.m. this morning at his polling place in Affton to cast his ballot and begin a day filled with stops at polling places around the county.
When asked about turnout, Stenger predicted, "I think it's going to be good...I think people are ready for change and energized to make that change."
Monday night, Dooley exuded confidence that the public was happy with with him and will vote to keep him in office. “I’ve very optimistic,’’ Dooley said, shortly before addressing about 75 supporters at a rally at the United Auto Workers office in Hazelwood.
Like Stenger, Dooley also planned to spend much of today traveling around the county to visit polling places and mingle with voters.
At the rally, Dooley was joined by county Assessor Jake Zimmerman and county prosecutor candidate Leslie Broadnax, among others, as they sought to encourage their audience to help get out the vote.
Lew Moye, head of the area's Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, sought to rev up the ground by recalling President Barack Obama's campaign-speech closer: "Fired Up! Ready to go!"
The aim of the really, said Dooley, was indeed to “to get everybody fired up. We’re going to go out there and bring this home.”
Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Stenger, of Affton, also was in north St. Louis County Monday night attending a union rally on his behalf, said spokesman Ed Rhode. The event was apparently closed to the press and comes just days after a similar event in south St. Louis County, the spokesman said.
Stenger has garnered most of the region’s labor support, with the key exceptions of the UAW and the Service Employees International Union. Tuesday’s balloting could determine which union factions will wield the most clout.
Stenger has spent the last few days going door to door, and his campaign operation has conducted 30,000 phone calls to potential voters just since Sunday phone calls, Rhode said.
Former Sen. Jean Carnahan was featured in a robo-call Monday on Stenger’s behalf.
Meanwhile, Dooley’s campaign has been circulating statements from his business and political supporters, including St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay and U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-Mo.
Dooley campaign treasurer John Temporiti dismissed speculation that a significant number of Republicans will cross over and take Democratic ballots to vote for Stenger. Temporiti said that the GOP’s own contest for county executive – between state Rep. Rick Stream of Kirkwood and Green Park Alderman Tony Pousosa – would likely prompt most Republicans to vote in their own primary.
Even so, Stream sent out a Tweet on Monday that exhorted Republicans to stick with their party’s county-executive candidates and vote for him.
Neither Stream nor Pousosa announced any public appearances Monday or today. All four candidates have special "victory'' parties planned for tonight; for two of the contenders, the events will be bittersweet since they will have lost.