ST. LOUIS -- A St. Louis city alderman has abandoned his quest to fill the state Senate seat held by his mother before her death last month, calling upon his backers to support state Rep. Louis Ford, a fellow local Democrat.
Greg Carter's exodus from the 5th District race came after his talks in recent days with Ford over the seat vacated by Sen. Paula Carter, the local Democrat who died Nov. 5 after a long battle with cancer, Carter and Ford said in a joint statement Saturday.
Carter, elected to the local Board of Aldermen in 1993, called the decision to withdraw "difficult" but "the best thing for our community" in terms of Democratic unity.
"Louis Ford is a proven leader," he said of the 66-year-old state lawmaker, serving his 10th two-year term in the House.
While praising Carter for "putting his community's best interests first," Ford said he welcomes the backing from the Democrat he called "a great, young public servant who has a bright future ahead of him."
Carter and Ford did not immediately return telephone messages Saturday night.
Members of the St. Louis City Democratic Central Committee are to meet Tuesday to nominate their candidate in the 5th District race, in advance of the Dec. 28 deadline for Democratic and GOP committees to tap their candidates. Gov. Bob Holden has scheduled a special election in the 5th District race for Feb. 5.
Paula Carter was first elected to the House in 1986 and served as president of the Missouri Legislative Black Caucus. She won a special election to the Senate in March 2000 to fill the remaining nine months of the term of Sen. J.B. "Jet" Banks, D-St. Louis, who had resigned citing health problems after pleading guilty to filing false state income tax returns.
Paula Carter, a longtime Banks ally, won election to a full four-year Senate term in November 2000.
The February special election will be the second in the Senate in recent months.
Last week, state Rep. Harry Kennedy, a 49-year-old Democrat, defeated Republican lawyer Matt Hoffman to replace longtime Democratic Sen. John Scott, who resigned from the local 3rd District seat in October.
Kennedy, a St. Louisan who has been a state House member since 1996, will serve the final three years of Scott's four-year term in the district that includes part of the city of St. Louis as well as all or portions of the St. Louis suburbs of Shrewsbury, Webster Groves, Affton, Richmond Heights, Maplewood and Marlborough.
When Kennedy is sworn in, Republicans will hold an 18-15 majority in the 34-member Senate with one vacancy.
The Legislative session begins Jan. 9.