|POKIN AROUND: Attracted by obscurity
By Steve Pokin
Michael Carter, a St. Charles attorney, wants to be your
next lieutenant governor and he also wants you to know,
right now, that you'd better visit his Web site if you don't
want to receive the dozen or so automated voice messages he
plans to send you.
Carter plans to bombard voters across the state with 50
million automated phone calls delivered by robo-dialing
between now and the Aug. 5 Democratic primary.
If you think all those automated calls might be a bit, well,
annoying, he suggests you visit his Web site,
to escape the robo-Carter blitz.
To me, this seemed a strange way to run a campaign.
"I would say that I'm actually reaching out to the public in
a public-relations way," Carter said. "If they have concerns
about it - I have not started them yet - let me know and
maybe I can get you off the rotating calls that we will
He promises to respect state and federal no-call lists, even
though, he says, as a purveyor of political speech he
doesn't have to.
Carter is a real estate attorney. You've probably seen his
law practice billboard at Fifth Street and Boone's Lick Road
in St. Charles. He also teaches business courses with a
focus on marketing and public relations at the University of
Missouri at St. Louis. He lives in St. Peters.
Why not lower your sights? I suggested. After all, I said, I
don't want to take the wind from your sails, but you've
never actually won an election yet. Why not run for St.
"It doesn't excite me," he said. "It is sort of the way some
people like blue better than green."
Carter, 36, has tried three times to win office since he
graduated from the University of Missouri law school in May
Before he even passed the bar he filed to run as a Democrat
for circuit judge in St. Charles County, challenging
Republican Nancy Schneider in Division 2.
Matt Blunt, then Secretary of State, disqualified Carter
from appearing on the August 2004 primary ballot because
Carter wasn't a practicing lawyer yet.
As a result, Carter had to run as a write-in candidate.
Schneider gathered 108,240 votes.
Carter gathered 18.
And the St. Charles County Election Authority had the
audacity to state that Schneider captured 100 percent of the
Carter did considerably better two years later in another
bid for circuit judge, losing to Rick Zerr in Division 4.
This time Carter claimed 52,059 votes, or 43 percent.
And then in April 2007, Carter was in a four-way race for
municipal judge in St. Peters. He finished second with 17
percent of the vote. Incumbent Donald Kohl won with 50
I asked Carter why he chose to run for lieutenant governor.
"The lieutenant governor's race is pretty obscure," he said.
He mentioned what Thomas Eagleton, who rose to U.S. Senator,
once said about the post of Missouri lieutenant governor
that he had held. It was good for "watching the Missouri
River flow by," Eagleton said.
"I don't know if the best advertising campaign on Earth can
make the voters care about the office of lieutenant
governor," Carter said.
As such, he said, it's an office that he just might be able
to "slip into" without spending more than the $50,000, tops,
of his own money that he might put into this race.
That way, he said, if he wins he won't owe his soul to large
Carter said that if elected, he would fulfill the duties of
the office, such as advocating for senior citizens. In
addition, he would continue the efforts of incumbent Peter
Kinder to promote the "Tour of Missouri" bicycle race.
Carter said he would also try to expand the duties of the
office to see if he could do anything to help raise
"But I just don't want to tell anybody that the office is
going to make huge inroads," he said.
To file for statewide office, Carter and other candidates
had to pay $200, provide proof of identity and present a
signed statement that he or she does not owe taxes.
Filing opened Feb. 26 and closes at 5 p.m. Monday, March 25.
Carter was one of five to file on the first day. No one has
On the Democratic side there's Carter and state Rep. Sam
Page, a doctor and former Creve Coeur councilman first
elected to the House in 2002.
On the Republican side is Kinder and Paul Douglas Sims of
Lecoma. The Libertarian candidate is Teddy Fleck.
In Carter's view, whoever wins the Democratic primary is a
shoe-in to win the general election in November.
The key to Carter's campaign, as mentioned, is automated
calling. In 2006 Carter, with the help of students,
resurrected a time and temperature phone number that had
been dormant since 2002. The number had been sponsored by a
series of banks for 39 years.
If you call it you'll get the time and temperature. You'll
also get Carter telling you he's running for lieutenant
governor and you can visit his Web site if you don't want to
hear his automated voice in the near future.
He said the number gets about 10,000 calls a day.
Carter said he can afford to make his estimated 50 million
automated calls because of his expertise and connections in
telecommunications. He said he has the know-how to pay a
couple thousand dollars for a robo-dialing result that might
cost someone else 10 times more.
Carter said he's in the race to stay, despite being urged by
Democrats to drop out and instead run against Tom Dempsey in
the state Senate.
"Anyone can run for office in Missouri if they can make it
to Jefferson City and pay the filing fee," Page, his
opponent, said. "I wish him well."
Jack Cardetti, spokesman for the Missouri Democratic Party,
said Friday that the party does not back candidates in
primaries. But Cardetti said Page seems to be in a better
financial position to unseat Kinder.
According to reports on file with the Missouri Ethics
Commission, Kinder has raised $858,278 and Page $664,414.
Carter said he didn't file a report because he hasn't yet
received a campaign contribution and, thus far, hasn't spent
any of his own money.
He thanked me for my interest.
"Although I think I've probably dug myself a hole that I
won't be able to get out of," he said.