Alderman's donkey becomes attraction of St. Louis ward

Tuesday, July 9, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- If anyone in Tom Bauer's ward still wonders whether the alderman is a Democrat, the politician's donkey might be a giveaway.

And if Bauer has his way, he'll ride Dan the donkey all the way into another term in this city's 24th Ward.

Bauer walks or rides the 4-year-old pet donkey more than three miles a day through the neighborhood, often getting a double take or two.

Dan has replaced Bauer's beloved Scotty, a 10-year-old donkey that died unexpectedly last summer at a Jefferson County farm while Bauer was vacationing. Scotty had been a neighborhood fixture, carrying Bauer door-to-door as a campaign gimmick on behalf of Bauer or another Democrat the alderman backed.

Bought in Paris, Tenn., Dan also is being groomed to one day hit the campaign trail for Bauer, running for re-election next spring, or for other Democrats running locally before then.

To Bauer, 57, campaigning with a donkey is easy. All the questions are about the animal, not on Bauer's platform. A real icebreaker and conversation piece.

Donkeys are "extremely affectionate, fun to interact with but so terribly stubborn. That aspect makes it difficult," Bauer says, coaxing Dan into his hay-lined stall inside the garage.

Truth be told, Dan has not replaced Scotty in Bauer's heart. But the donkey has shown he is a good-spirited, four-legged companion to the politician, who once considered getting a parrot before opting for Scotty.

That's not to say there haven't been adjustments. Among them: the diaper bag that fit Scotty so nicely is a bit askew on Dan, but it's getting the job done and leaving the streets clean.

After all, Bauer says, "you can't be dumping poop when you're an alderman."

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