On Aug, 7, a lot of St. Louis Democrats will face a heart-
In the 1st Congressional District primary, they'll have to choose
between two incumbent congressmen who many have supported for a
decade or more. The two candidates, William Lacy Clay Jr. and Russ
Carnahan, are friends, or used to be. Both have been solid
Democratic votes in a Congress in which those are increasingly tough
to come by.
For many, it will be a tough call. It's a tough one for us, too.
But it's not because we're enthralled with either of the two men,
both of whom we have previously endorsed. It's the opposite -
neither of them is an overwhelming choice. Both of them have family
legacies to uphold, but neither has the talent or the stature of his
The most interesting nugget that came out of our meetings with
the two Democrats was something Mr. Carnahan said as a not-so-thin-
veiled jab at Mr. Clay:
"You can't rest on a legacy," he said. "That's not good enough."
Those sharp words slice like a double-edged sword.
In his six terms in the House, Mr. Clay has coasted on the
organization that his father and predecessor built but without being
as deeply and continuously involved in local issues as Bill Clay
was. The elder Clay had been a civil rights pioneer, an alderman, a
crusader and a street-smart guy.Lacy spent some time in the minors
in Jefferson City and thensat down in a nice warm seat.
Similarly, Mr. Carnahan won the 2004 primary to succeed the
powerful and effective Richard A. Gephardt mostly on the power of
his last name. He's proven to lack both the gravitas and influence
of either his father, former Gov. Mel Carnahan, or his congressional
Voters are tired of the same old thing, the same old names, the
usual suspects who treat politics as a family sinecure. It's too bad
that St. Louis Democrats don't have a better candidate who has a
fresh story to tell.
It's not good enough.
But voters have to chose. So do we.
We choose Russ Carnahan.
- Mr. Clay got a seat on the House Financial Services Committee
and used it sell out his constituents, many of them black and poor,
to the predatory rent-to-own industry. He failed in his most
important duty, serving the people. He tells us a new version of the
bill he champions is better than the bad one he refused to talk
about when the Post-Dispatch reported on his support of it in
February. But there is simply no defending a bill that would block
states from requiring such stores to disclose their rates to
consumers. Mr. Clay should have fought for financial literacy and
affordable credit instead of helping rent-to-own stores rip off his
constituents while pocketing thousands in campaign cash from the