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Huckabee headlining February rally for Wagner

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 5, 2012 - Ann Wagner, a Republican congressional candidate for the 2nd District, is bringing in former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a favorite with social conservatives, for a Feb. 2 rally.

The location has yet to be announced, but free tickets will be distributed Saturday afternoon to grassroots supporters at Wagner's headquarters, 14551 Manchester Road.

A Wagner spokesman said the rally reflects her support for conservative issues and her support from fellow conservatives.

Huckabee endorsed Wagner a couple of months ago. In a statement, he said, "Huck PAC and I are pleased to endorse Ann Wagner....With over 20 years of experience in the private sector, community service and politics, Ann's career has been committed to service to her hometown, state and nation."

Wagner said: "I am excited to welcome conservative champion, Gov. Mike Huckabee to my hometown and the 2nd congressional district to fire up grassroots supporters as our campaign continues to build momentum and work toward historic GOP victories in 2012. Together we will return strong, effective, conservative leadership to Washington."

So far, Huckabee's PAC has yet to donate to Wagner, the spokesman said. But Wagner hasn't appeared to need the money yet, either, based on her previous campaign reports. Her latest report showed her with about $860,000 in the bank -- far more than her GOP rival, St. Louis Ed Martin. The latest reports are due Jan. 31.

Wagner, a former state GOP chairman and a former co-chair of the Republican National Committee, has benefited from her political ties. Her supporters also include many executives at Enterprise Rent-a-Car, one of the state's most politically active companies. Her husband, former state Revenue Director Ray Wagner, has been an Enterprise executive for at least 15 years.

Huckabee's appearance could be aimed at bolstering Wagner's support from area tea party activists, some of whom prefer Martin. He was a speaker at a tea party event Wednesday in Jefferson City.

Wagner also has defended some tea party targets, notably U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, R-Ind., who is being challenged for re-election by some tea party activists in Indiana.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.