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Jotte's set to challenge Wagner, Martin in the 2nd

(via Flickr/League of Women Voters of California)

Dr. Randy Jotte contends that his experience as an emergency room physician is just the type of "independent-thinking approach" needed in Congress.

Jotte, a Republican, says that's why he is jumping in to the already combative contest for the 2nd District congressional seat, which takes in parts of St. Louis and St. Charles counties. Two Republicans -- Ann Wagner, a former ambassador and state party chief, and St. Louis lawyer Ed Martin -- have been competing for months.

Jotte of Webster Groves is announcing his candidacy Tuesday morning at the St. Louis Carousel (perhaps that's a political image he wants to highlight) in Faust Park in west St. Louis County.

A former member of the Webster Groves City Council, Jotte narrowly lost bids for state representative in 2008 and the St. Louis County Council in 2010.

Jotte, 52, is an emergency-room physician at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. He has been highlighting his educational background, which includes degrees from Vanderbilt and Harvard universities and a Fulbright grant to Oxford University.

UPDATE: At Tuesday's kickoff, Jotte said his focus -- in the campaign and in Congress -- would be on how best to address the skyrocketing growth of Medicare, which covers Americans age 65 and over. "We have to change how the services are provided," said Jotte, citing national experts -- and distributing  charts -- to back up his point that "the program as it is now is unsustainable."

What's needed, he said, is "a doctor-patient conversation with the public" to discuss the magnitude of the growing Medicare costs. Among other things, he's suggesting that the program, and the health care changes approved by Congress in 2010, be revamped. Jotte's suggestions include using Medicare more for acute and catastrophic care, and reduce the payments the program would make for care not deemed to be a necessity for the patient. The public would need to foot more of those costs, he said. 

The carousel swirling in the background was, indeed, meant as a metaphor. Too much of the debate in Washington, he said, "is taking us around and around in circles, and not getting us anywhere."

Jotte also promised to address the nation's spending problems.

"This year's election is monumental.  Our nation is drowning in debt, and the partisan bickering is getting us nowhere. I'm running on the Republican ticket, but I frankly am tired of labels. I'm an independent thinker who desires solutions, not rhetoric," he said.

"The national debt and our stagnant economy are threats as great as any we have ever had...  Missouri is a bellwether state and this is an open seat in Congress.  We must lead by example.   I believe there is a grassroots movement sweeping the country, tired of the bickering and the career politicians more interested in power than in making a difference for America's future."

(end update)

At a minimum, Jotte will face financial challenges.  Wagner's last campaign-finance report, filed in October, showed her with more than $850,000 in the bank -- and she is expected to report far more when congressional reports are filed next week.

At the moment, the only Democrat declaring an interest in the GOP-leaning 2nd is St. Louis School Board member Bill Haas. U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan, D-St. Louis, has been encouraged by party leaders to consider a bid --but he appears to be looking elsewhere.

This article originally appeared in the St. Louis Beacon.