CLOUT: Gwen Reed, The Operative Who Helped Clay Crush Carnahan

CLOUT is a regular feature from Beyond November that profiles the pols, pals and pundits who influence the candidates and their campaigns. Have a suggestion for a Clout profile? Send an e-mail to Richard Weiss at

This interview for Beyond November was conducted and written by Tim Poor, a former Washington correspondent and national editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Name:  Gwen Reed

Party: Democrat

Age: 68

Education:  University of Missouri

Clout: Reed was one of the first African-American teachers in the Hazelwood School District and retired in 1999 after 30 years of teaching.  She also worked for former U.S. Rep. Bill Clay for 25 years on a part time basis.  After both she and Clay retired, she went on to be an assistant campaign manager for Lacy Clay in 2000, and was a full time staffer for him, handling constituent services; she ran his most recent campaign, in which he defeated Rep. Russ Carnahan in the Democratic primary. In 2008, Reed was elected Democratic committeewoman in St. Louis County, and was re-elected to that post this year. She served as president of the St. Louis Community College Board for six years. She’s currently serving as vice chair of Congressional Awards Council of Missouri, a bipartisan board. And she’s been an informal advisor to untold other Democrats over the years.

Current campaign work:  Clay and Obama; she’s helping to coordinate a rally for Obama and other Democrats from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. Sunday at Veterans Memorial Park, 2577 Redman Ave. in Florissant.

The (third) presidential debate:  “Is there another word for awesome? I was a delegate for (John) Kerry when Obama first came on the scene. When he spoke at 2004 convention, he was just awesome.”  It was not the Obama she saw in the first two debates, but Monday night, “That was the Obama that I remember.  He was focused, he was determined and he was forthright.  Everything he said was correct.  I’m so sorry Mitt Romney is on a different wavelength.  Obama gets it.”

I know I’ve done a good job (as a teacher) when  …: “I see my former students and they remember me and they’re all doing well.  When my kids would call me ‘Mom,’ even when I wasn’t their mom.”

I know I’ve done a good job (in politics) when …: “When Lacy Clay calls me every day and says, ‘Thank you.’”

Beyond November: “Education, that’s going to be at the forefront.  Pulling the kids’ scores up, getting students to understand, especially in the black community they must get engaged.  Education and jobs.”

Biggest political disappointment:  Losing the Democratic primary for St. Louis License Collector to Tom Nash.

Political heroes:  “My father.  He had me standing on the corner at five years old handing out literature.  He was my first introduction into politics. My husband (the late Helton Reed Jr.). Lacy, because he’s really a compassionate person. And Bill Clay.  He’s true to his word.”

Most important race: President.  “Because he’s the head of the nation.   We’ve got to get Gov. Nixon back, we’ve got to get Claire McCaskill back.”

Underrated race:  The presidential race in Missouri.  “I don’t see enough activity. I know the Obama campaign has written off Missouri, but it’s there for the taking if we work hard.”

Biggest primary surprise:  “I got more votes than any committeeperson in the county,” although she was running unopposed.

Akin/McCaskill prediction: “If we get up and do what we have to do, Claire has got to win this.  What would happen to Missouri if Akin goes to DC as a senator?  His values are not the values of my community.”


Posted in CLOUT: Influential pols, pals & pundits, Commentary, Uncategorized
5 comments on “CLOUT: Gwen Reed, The Operative Who Helped Clay Crush Carnahan
  1. Ms. Reed was my 6th grade teacher in 1978 and she was always one of my favorites. She once wrote on my report card,”Chris seems to have a problem handling authority in a mature way.” She was the first African American teacher I ever had. (besides my mother who was a teacher as well) I have seen her from time to time over the years and she never seems to age! Although we are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, I respect her highly for everything she has accomplished. This article is a well deserved honor!

  2. Lake and Brenda Stith, says:

    We are old friends of Gwen and her late Husband Helton Reed Jr. Very please to see her recognized for the outstanding job she has done over the years.

    Lake and Brenda Stith,

  3. Patricia Barnes says:

    Gwen Reed takes her job seriously. She did as an educator and now as a political representative. She is a committeewoman that tries to keep her constituents informed and active in everything political, that affects their wellbeing. I am glad to see her being featured.

    Ronald and Patricia Barnes

  4. Hank Thompson says:

    Superior personality that has warmth and strength of purpose loyalty personified a great lady to all that meet her
    Hank Thompson

    • Brenda Stith says:

      I was exceedingly pleased to discover the recognitioin of my dear friend Gwen Reed. It is a well deserved and a long awaited acknowledgment. As a long time friend, I know her to be a devoted, astute, passionate; as well as compassionate community advocate. It serves us well to spotlight persons of this ilk, to ecourage, inspire and to service the community needs.

      Thank you for highlighting Gwen’s accomplisments.

      Brenda Stith,

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