Tishaura Jones, Cara Spencer Moving Forward in St. Louis Mayor's Race

Treasurer Tishaura Jones and Alderwoman Cara Spencer will face off for mayor. - CAMPAIGN HANDOUTS
Treasurer Tishaura Jones and Alderwoman Cara Spencer will face off for mayor.

All that "vote for AS MANY names as you approve of" fun is over — now you've got to pick one for mayor.

St. Louis Treasurer Tishaura Jones and Alderwoman Cara Spencer were the top two finishers in the city's first primary under the new approval voting system, setting up a battle of the progressives for next month's general election.

Jones, who narrowly lost to Mayor Lyda Krewson in 2017, outpaced all others in the four-candidate field, selected on 57 percent of the ballots, according to unofficial tallies released by the Board of Elections.

Spencer, who built a watchdog reputation while representing Ward 20 in south city, was selected on 46 percent of ballots.

They both easily defeated Board of Alderman Lewis Reed, who had been a successful fundraiser, polled well and looked to be on pace to advance to the general when absentee ballots showed him in second behind Jones and well ahead of Spencer. But as soon as in-person voting totals started rolling in, the veteran politico fell out of the running. Businessman Andrew Jones finished a distant fourth.

St. Louis was just the second city in the nation to adopt approval voting, following Fargo, North Dakota. Voters could vote for however many candidates they chose.

The idea was to pick winners through a more representative process, instead of those who survive crowded, splintered Democratic primaries and then cruise in lopsided generals. It was, however, an unpredictable competition, given its novelty, and that continues into the April 6 general election. It's unclear how those who voted Reed, seen as a more moderate candidate by many, will split when it comes down to Jones versus Spencer.

The winner will succeed Krewson, who announced in November that she would not seek re-election after serving one term as the city's mayor.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at [email protected] or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.
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