JEFFERSON CITY — A woman who previously was a St. Louis County Council member, Missouri’s “second lady” and also a candidate for the U.S. Senate has died.
Geri Rothman-Serot, a three-time survivor of breast cancer, died Tuesday morning (July 2, 2019) of a rare bone cancer in Florida, her son, Daniel Rothman, told the Post-Dispatch. She was 75.
Ms. Rothman-Serot spent two decades in the political spotlight, first as the wife of former state House Speaker Ken Rothman, who became lieutenant governor in 1980 and made an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1984.
The two later divorced. Mr. Rothman died in April.
As the so-called second lady, she organized the spouses of state lawmakers to lobby for a new museum in the state Capitol. She also spearheaded an effort to raise money to start the “Hall of Famous Missourians,” which still exists in the Capitol.
In 1990, Ms. Rothman-Serot was the victor in one of the most expensive County Council battles ever.
As a member of the council, she pushed for incinerator regulations that banned medical waste from being burned in the St. Louis area. She also advocated tough penalties for hate crimes.
In 1992, she beat 13 others to win the Democratic primary election for a chance to challenge Republican U.S. Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond.
She credited her ability to appeal to diverse groups as a key to her primary victory.
She also said a battle with cancer helped forge her ideas on health care, including placing federal controls on costs and linking public and private clinics to improve access.
Bond, however, won the race, 55% to 45%.
In 1993, she dropped out of a race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. John Danforth, citing a lack of support.
She had been considered an early front-runner because of her name recognition in the vote-rich suburbs of St. Louis, her political base.
Ms. Rothman-Serot said she took political slights too personally. She said she wasn’t good at the maneuvering needed to be successful.
“I never should have gotten into politics in the first place. I’m not good at it,” she told the Post-Dispatch in 2009.
She also advocated for campaign finance reform, including a ban on private contributions in favor of public financing. She said she spent about $300,000 of her own money on her campaigns.
While in Florida, Ms. Rothman-Serot continued her work to help educate men and woman about cancer, including serving on the Lakeland Regional Medical Center Foundation’s Women in Philanthropy Board.
She is survived by her husband, Dr. Don Serot, eight children and 16 grandchildren.
A graveside service will be at 11 a.m. Friday at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, 650 White Road, Chesterfield.