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Michael Brown supporters call on St. Louis County voters to reject Stenger candidacy

Michael Brown supporters call on St. Louis County voters to reject Stenger candidacy

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CLAYTON • A coalition seeking change in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting on Monday formally called on St. Louis County voters to reject Democratic county executive candidate Steve Stenger in the November general election.

Zaki Baruti, head of the Justice for Michael Brown Leadership Coalition, accused Stenger and his political ally — County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch — of orchestrating a “racist campaign” against incumbent County Executive Charlie Dooley in the August primary.

Dooley, the county’s first African-American chief executive, was soundly defeated by Stenger, a county councilman, in a primary campaign that ended four days before Brown was shot to death by Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson.

“They said Charlie Dooley is a corrupt person,” Baruti said. “We’re saying Bob McCulloch is corrupt.”

Between now and the Nov. 4 general election, the coalition intends to deliver the message that “a vote for Steve Stenger is a vote for Bob McCulloch.”

“We are encouraging all people of goodwill to express their outrage at the ballot box,” Baruti said in a 10-minute press conference in front of the County Administration Building in downtown Clayton.

Baruti said the coalition has yet to decide whether it will support Stenger’s opponents, Republican State Rep. Rick Stream, Libertarian Party candidate Theo (Ted) Brown Sr. or Constitution Party candidate Joe Passanise.

The coalition called the press conference, Baruti said, after Stenger refused to distance himself from McCulloch following a contentious County Council meeting last Tuesday.

Speaker after speaker at the meeting called on Stenger to denounce McCulloch.

Stenger on Wednesday reiterated his support for a prosecutor whose objectivity has been questioned in the aftermath of Brown’s death.

Activists and political leaders fear the fatal line-of-duty shooting 50 years ago of McCulloch’s father, a police officer, will unduly influence any decisions about prosecuting Wilson in the Brown case.

Baruti said the coalition has not reached out to Stenger for a private discussion about his relationship with McCulloch or thoughts on issues brought to the fore in the six weeks since Brown was killed.

“He has our contact information,” Baruti said.

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Steve Giegerich is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

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