CLOUT is a regular feature from Beyond November that profiles the pols, pals and pundits who influence the candidates and their campaigns.
Name: Paul Zemitzsch
Job: President, Sequel LLC, a St. Louis public relations, marketing and governmental relations firm; president, founder Explore Green, which represents scientists and explorers around the world.
Education: Northwestern University
Clout: Zemitzsch founded Sequel, his PR firm, in 1989 after a decade in the Illinois Attorney General’s office, where he directed policy and planning. He advised every Republican in the Missouri Senate from 1992-2008 as well as Republicans on the St. Louis County Council. Never a rabid partisan, he specialized in bringing Republicans and Democrats together on issues where they shared common ground, like public money for Busch Stadium. He’s also worked on behalf of three recent campaigns to raise money for Metro.
Although he continues to informally advise GOP candidates, his firm isn’t working for candidates now but is focused on advising municipalities, St. Louis County and other regional governments how to pass propositions such as the bond issue for the new St. Louis County courthouse. Zemitzsch says he finds that work more satisfying than crafting what often turn out to be empty campaign promises. “When you work for a candidate, you tell people what you’re going to do but then you can’t do it,” he says. “When you pass a bond issue, it gets done.” He’s been working with St. Louis Mayor Frances Slay to build bridges with the county, and with the St. Louis Municipal League to help non-partisan mayors talk to politicians.
Current campaign: Managing the campaign for Proposition L, a tax increase for the St. Louis County Library District.
Biggest political disappointment: Term limits in Missouri and other states. “It’s horrible. It’s left the Legislature in the hands of bureaucrats and lobbyists. They’re (legislators) always running, they’re always pontificating and they’re not doing public service.”
I know I’ve done a good job when …: “…The pollsters tell me I can’t win the race and we win with a margin to spare.” (e.g., the county courthouse measure).
Beyond November: “I think you’re going to see a continuing dialogue about some parts of the city and county coming together. That’s going to be a very big deal.” Also worth watching: The proposition next April in the city and St. Louis and St. Charles counties to pass a parks tax.
Political hero: Rudy Giuliani when he was mayor of New York after 9/11. “I don’t think another political figure in the country could have stood so tall when we were seeing something unprecedented in American history. Rudy was the right man at the right time. “That shining moment amid the ashes will always be remembered.”
Most important race: McCaskill/Akin. The Senate is on a teeter totter. Three months ago, no one would have given Claire a chance. Todd’s mistake was very early on. People tend to forgive and forget. But I think Claire wins. Not big, but I think she wins.
Underrated race: The statewide 70-cent increase on cigarette taxes. For the first time, the cigarette companies are not involved. It takes money out of the race.
Overrated race: Ann Wagner vs. Glenn Koenen (2nd District, U.S. House): “It will be a coronation (of Wagner), not an election and she certainly deserves it.”
Biggest primary surprise: How easily Peter Kinder beat Brad Lager for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor.
Akin prediction: Will he stay in? Yes. “This is a guy who dresses up in a revolutionary war uniform on the Fourth of July.”