Rep. Bruce Franks will not pursue write-in candidacy for St. Louis mayor
(Updated with statement from Tishaura Jones)
State Rep. Bruce Franks will not run for St. Louis mayor.
Franks, a St. Louis Democrat, currently holds office as the State Representative for the 78th District of Missouri. On Thursday, he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he was making the necessary moves to become a write-in mayoral candidate in the April 4 general election. That would have put him on a collision course with Alderman Lyda Krewson, who narrowly won Tuesday’s Democratic primary for mayor.
But, on Friday morning, Franks then told St. Louis Public Radio he was reversing course and will not be pursuing the mayor’s office. He said he was concerned Republican Gov. Eric Greitens would leave the 78th House District seat vacant until 2018 if he prevailed.
Gov. Jay Nixon, a Democrat, was often slow to call special elections when legislative vacancies arose – especially for seats that were held by the opposite party. Franks said he feared Greitens would take a similar approach with Democratic-held seats.
“My decision is for the people,” Franks said. “Me wanting to run was for the people and me deciding not to run is for the people. Especially for the people in the 78th who would be left with nobody – which isn’t right.”
The candidate he supported for mayor -- city Treasurer Tishaura Jones -- was among those who opposed the write-in idea. She lost by less than 900 votes on Tuesday to Alderman Lyda Krewson.
"Change comes from the bottom, not from the top,'' Jones said in a text to St. Louis Public Radio. "It is driven by real injustices, not personalities. And it's strategic."
She added, "I love Bruce, but I would rather have him bearing witness in Jefferson City than explaining the difficult process of a write-in election. My only commitment in the April election is to oppose the use of city taxes to subsidize a new stadium."
After initially falling short in last year’s August primaries, Franks won a landslide redo election in September against incumbent state Rep. Penny Hubbard.
Franks’ entry into the mayor’s race could have become a major complication for Krewson. A multi-racial political coalition backed his successful bid for state representative, which could have provided him with a strong base of support in the April general election.
Ultimately though, Franks’ concerns about the status of his House district prompted him not to run.
“You can’t go from having an unengaged representative for six years to being excited and getting me in there. And I win, start doing the work, hit the ground running – only to be left vacant for a year to a year and a half,” Franks said.
Since Democratic nominees have been elected mayor for decades, Krewson is favored to win on April 4. Franks said she has some bridge building to do, especially since only 32 percent of Democratic primary voters backed her candidacy on Tuesday.
“We just hope that she has an open ear and she listens,” Franks said. “Because if not, there will be resistance.”
Krewson will face off against Republican Andrew Jones, as well as several other minor-party and independent candidates.
Political reporter Jo Mannies contributed information for this article.