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Bruce Franks Jr. wins the Missouri 78th District House seat revote

Bruce Franks Jr. celebrates his victory in the Missouri 78th District House seat special election as he stands on a bar at Yaquis on Cherokee Street and thanks his supporters on Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. Photo by David Carson, Dcarson@post-dispatch.com

Updated at 11:15 a.m. with comments from city Treasurer Tishaura Jones.

ST. LOUIS • Just over 12 hours since announcing that he will launch a write-in campaign to become the city's next mayor, State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. has changed his mind and will not seek the office.

Early Friday morning, Franks said his change of heart is about not wanting to leave his 78th District seat vacant for a prolonged period of time. It would be one less progressive voice in the state Legislature, he said. 

"The governor sets the special election," he said. "I've talked to people experienced in this, there's a possibility the 78th seat could sit vacant for a year or more. The people in the 78th need representation. They've fought too hard."

City Treasurer Tishaura Jones weighed in on Franks' decision Friday morning.

"Change comes from the bottom, not the top. It is driven by real injustices, not personalities, and it is strategic," Jones said. "I love Bruce, but I would rather have him bearing witness in Jefferson City than explaining the difficult process of a write-in election."

She added that her top priority following her narrow loss in Tuesday's Democratic primary is to oppose the April 4 ballot measure to use city business taxes to help finance a Major League Soccer stadium.

Our earlier story:

State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. announced Thursday that he is launching a write-in campaign to become the city’s next mayor in the April 4 general election.

Up until last fall, Franks, a Democrat, was a political newcomer. He famously lost in his August bid to unseat longtime 78th District House Rep. Penny Hubbard, before suing to have the election results overturned due to irregularities in absentee voting.

In September, Franks won a lopsided victory over Hubbard in a court-ordered redo election, prevailing by a 3-1 ratio.

Franks said his write-in campaign for mayor is the result of dissatisfaction over how Tuesday’s Democratic primary turned out.

Alderman Lyda Krewson won the primary with 32 percent of the vote, narrowly beating city Treasurer Tishaura Jones, who garnered 30 percent.

Krewson is expected to cruise to victory in April in the heavily Democratic city.

Franks and Jones both are part of the city’s energized movement of young progressives looking to shake up the establishment. The movement is broadly based on bringing racial and economic equity to the city.

Because Jones was on the primary ballot, state law prohibits her from launching a write-in campaign.

“I would’ve gotten behind Tishaura Jones, but because she can’t be a write-in, people started coming to me,” Franks said.

“I looked at the candidates left, and no disrespect to Lyda Krewson, because she’s a nice lady, I decided to do it because we need someone who can represent every part of the city.”

Franks, who emerged as an activist leader during the 2014 protests in Ferguson, said he has the ear of Mayor Francis Slay, the circuit attorney’s office and Police Chief Sam Dotson.

Franks and Dotson have collaborated on ways to improve police-community relations and recruiting a more diverse police force.

“People feel like I’m qualified to do this,” Franks said. “If anybody can get people to the polls, and get people excited about politics, it’s us. And by us, I mean the people who want change and the people who have fought for change.”

Under state law, Franks has to sign a declaration of intent and deliver it the Board of Election Commissioners by March 24 to become certified as a write-in candidate.

In addition to Krewson, the other names appearing on the general election ballot are: Republican utility executive Andrew Jones; independent candidate Larry Rice, the operator of a downtown homeless shelter; Libertarian candidate Robb Cunningham; and Green Party candidate Johnathan McFarland.

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Koran Addo is a reporter at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch