How to Campaign for Mayor Under the Radar

Categories: Politics
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Want photos of Board Prez Lewis Reed? Head straight to St. Louis Core
To apply some wisdom from John Goodman's character in The Big Lebowski, political campaigning is not like 'Nam. It's like bowling. There are rules.

If you distribute campaign material in Missouri, for example, you must announce who's paid for it. And if you're already an elected official, you can't use public resources to distribute that material.

But that's "campaigning" in the legal sense. Colloquially, to campaign means "to get people to vote for you." And such activity can fall in a gray area.

Consider the case of St. Louis Core, a website launched in March 2009 by Board of Aldermen President (and mayoral hopeful) Lewis Reed.

Reed has a background in computer science and set up the site himself, using his own money. Folks have noticed: In KMOX's Most Valuable Blogger Awards 2011, it won with both editors and the voting public.

St. Louis Core purports to be an apolitical community news hub. According to its mission statement, it's "dedicated to covering the issues important to the people of St. Louis, including highlighting the positive aspects of the St. Louis region."

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Another photo of Reed from St. Louis Core
Yet lately, it's done a solid job of highlighting the positive aspects of Lewis Reed.

Since December 1, it has run 20 "feature stories." Within that coverage, 17 photos of Lewis Reed have appeared, and he's also mentioned 10 times -- and I'm only counting Monday's profile of him as one mention.

(Presumably, this profile ran in case you missed the one back in August. That's right, he's been profiled twice in five months.)

A reader can get a sense of his importance through sheer repetition: Every single article on board meetings begins with: "This past week the Board of Aldermen held their weekly meeting, presided by Lewis Reed, President of the Board of Aldermen." All those articles end by reminding you that Lewis Reed adjourned the meeting.

Sometimes, coverage is glowing, as in the feature that popped up on December 28:
The 2012-2013 budget in these economic times was one the the most analyzed budgets in recent years.  Due to the leadership of President Reed the taxpayers of the City are receiving the maximum benefits possible.
All fine and good, if Reed set up St. Louis Core as a private media enterprise (which he says he did). That would give him the right to steer the message how he wants. But in that case, why are his city-employed staff members writing for it, occasionally on taxpayer time? 


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