Is St. Louis County Executive Sam Page getting a challenger?

Sources say County Assessor Jake Zimmerman has had conversations about a potential primary run

Michael Calhoun
September 18, 2019 - 9:58 am
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page (center)

KMOX/Michael Calhoun

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CLAYTON (KMOX) - St. Louis County Executive Sam Page, as he touts his clean-up of a scandal-plagued executive branch, could face a challenger from within his own party before he can win the rest of this term.

Page took over the top spot earlier this year after the resignation of former County Executive Steve Stenger, who reports to federal prison this weekend. Stenger was sworn in for a new term in January before federal criminal charges were filed against him in April.

Related: County Executive Sam Page signs order to promote pay equity

A special election next year will determine who fills the rest of this current period in office. Then, another vote for a full term will happen in 2022.

Sources say County Assessor Jake Zimmerman has had conversations about a potential primary run with donors and other political types. They say those talks include with unions feeling unsure about the future of apprenticeships in the county.

A Zimmerman family friend told KMOX News that people have mentioned the race to the Assessor, but he's concentrating on his current job with this being a reassessment year.

He's "fully occupied" with that role, the spokesman said.

Page reacts to the prospect: "I've had conversations with a lot of people who are interested in running for other offices in Missouri and in St. Louis County, including County Executive. I think it's important that those conversations can be had without us having them publicly."

University of Missouri-St. Louis political science professor Dave Robertson said taxpayers should be familiar with Jake Zimmerman's name, since it is stamped on envelopes in their mailboxes.

But could voters wind up blaming the Assessor should their tax bill ever go up?

"Kind of like gas prices rising, people who are in charge may or may not be responsible for the pain people feel, but they sure are held to account for some of the pain that people feel," Robertson explained.

Both men, he said, have a base of support in the central corridor.

"Creve Coeur in the case of Page and U. City in the case of Zimmerman," he said, while adding that "both have names that are known. Both have run in elections before and gotten their name out. Zimmerman, of course, has won a county-wide election."

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Page said it's too early to really start talking about politicking.

"It's a long time until next August," Page said. "Filing opens in the winter and closes in the spring. I suspect a lot of people will be interested in running for a lot of offices, so we'll just see what the future holds."

Robertson agrees.

"It is too far out," he said, "but it means we're going to be watching a little more carefully the performance of Page and Zimmerman in their respective offices. There certainly will be people looking for flaws."

The top issues, in Robertson's view, are likely to include the reunification of the city and county along with ethics, although he said if there's a recession it could put jobs at the forefront.

Page has a campaign committee registered with $15,138 on hand, as of the last quarterly update. Supporters also established a PAC on his behalf, but have yet to file a fundraising report.

Zimmerman, meantime, is still listed with the Missouri Ethics Commission as running for re-election as County Assessor. That campaign account had a balance of $501,741 at last report.

KMOX's Maria Keena contributed to this story from Tuesday's County Council meeting.

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