Franks wins re-do primary in 78th House District | St. Louis Public Radio

Franks wins re-do primary in 78th House District

Sep 16, 2016

Updated at 10:45 p.m. with comments from Franks. -- The second time is the charm for Bruce Franks.

Franks, an activist and small business owner, defeated Penny Hubbard Friday night in a court-ordered re-do Democratic primary in the 78th House District.

Franks came within 90 votes of Hubbard in August. He sued over the results, saying that the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners had improperly counted a couple hundred absentee ballots, which more than eliminated Hubbard’s margin of victory. The circuit and appeals courts agreed.

The second primary wasn't close. Unofficial results from the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners show Franks beating Hubbard 2,234 to 701. Franks won more votes than he did in August.

"We stood against the machine," Franks told an exuberant crowd of more than 100 supporters who gathered at Yaquis on Cherokee Street, some standing out in the rain.  "We didn’t have the money. We didn’t have the relationships. But none of that matters when you have the people."

Hubbard's husband, Rodney Sr. is a member of the Democratic central committee in the city and her daughter Tammika is the alderman for the 5th Ward. Penny Hubbard did not immediately have a comment on the outcome of the second primary.

Franks will face Republican Erik Shelquist in November. Since the 78th District is heavily Democratic, Franks is favored in the general election.

Bruce Franks Jr. hugs his mother, Earline Banks, at his election night watch party.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

He said his victory represents a big change in the way that politics operates in both St. Louis and in Jefferson City. 

"If we’re going to get anything done, we’re going to have to people that we can work with. But, only for the people. Not invested interests. Not padding our pockets, but for the people."

General election absentee ballots must be mailed to military voters starting Sept. 23. Elections officials will try to get the results of the race certified over the weekend.

Supporters listen as Bruce Franks Jr. speaks about his campaign at a packed Yaquis on Cherokee Street.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Ongoing fallout

Though the primary is finally over, the effects of the contested election are still being felt.

Friends surround Bruce Franks Jr. at his election watch party.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Rulings at both the circuit and the appeals courts called into question the legality of allowing voters to cast absentee ballots on electronic machines. It’s not clear whether the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners will continue that practice in the general election, where absentee voting opens Sept. 27.

Though the Secretary of State’s Elections Integrity Unit found no evidence that would support a probable cause statement, Democrat Jason Kander encouraged circuit attorney Jennifer Joyce to investigate the issues raised by Franks’ lawsuit and a St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigation.  

And the outcome of the court fight in the 78th has prompted a lawsuit in a second election against a member of the Hubbard family.

Bruce Franks Jr. poses with a cape given to him by a supporter.
Credit Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Ferguson Commission member and activist Rasheen Aldridge filed suit Wednesday challenging his 55-vote loss to Rodney Hubbard, Sr., Penny’s husband, for a seat on the Democratic central committee. Hubbard won because of a strong showing in absentee balloting.

Aldridge is alleging that the St. Louis Board of Election Commissioners improperly accepted 113 absentee ballots, which wipes out the margin of victory. Franks’ attorney successfully raised the same issue in the House primary.

Follow Rachel Lippmann on Twitter: @rlippmann

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum