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U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner sees economy and crime, not abortion, as top 2nd District issues

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U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin) touts her accomplishments in Congress on Friday, July 22, 2022, during a meeting of the St. Charles County Pachyderm Club at Mattingly's Sports Bar & Grill in Lake St. Louis.
Brian Munoz
St. Louis Public Radio
U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, touts her accomplishments in Congress on July 22, during a meeting of the St. Charles County Pachyderm Club at Mattingly's Sports Bar & Grill in Lake St. Louis.

Congresswoman Ann Wagner is the latest guest on the Politically Speaking podcast, where she talked with St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum about her reelection campaign in Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District.

Wagner has represented the 2nd District since 2013. The district changed after redistricting and now contains parts of St. Louis, St. Charles and Warren counties as well as all of Franklin County.

For the past few years, Wagner has served on the House Financial Services Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee. She serves as the vice ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee — and she could gain influence if she wins reelection and the GOP takes control of the House.

Wagner is running against Democrat Trish Gunby, a state representative from Ballwin. You can listen to Gunby’s Politically Speaking episode that she recorded earlier this year here.

Here’s what Wagner talked about on the show:

  • Why she decided to run for reelection instead of jumping into the crowded GOP primary to replace U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt. She also discussed how the new boundaries of the 2nd District will affect her representation, especially since Franklin and Warren counties are heavily agricultural.
  • Whether the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will make the race more competitive. Gunby is against Missouri’s abortion ban and has made it a central aspect of her campaign, while Wagner contends that the economy and crime are more top of mind for 2nd District residents.
  • Her support for Ukraine's efforts to repel the Russian invasion, which she reiterated amid news reports that GOP leader Kevin McCarthy may be less inclined to support military assistance in the future.
  • Whether House Republicans would be able to govern effectively, especially since it’s unclear whether the GOP will take over the Senate and the party won’t have control of the presidency.

Wagner has been a prominent figure in Missouri Republican Party politics for years. She served as chairwoman of the state GOP in the 2000s and played a major role in Blunt’s successful bid for the Senate in 2010. President George W. Bush appointed Wagner ambassador to Luxembourg in 2005.

Wagner took the plunge into electoral politics in 2012 when she ran to succeed Todd Akin in the 2nd Congressional District. Eight years ago, that district leaned decidedly Republican, and Wagner had little trouble dispatching Democratic opponents in 2014 and 2016.

But things changed in 2018 when Wagner ran against Democrat Cort VanOstran. Even though VanOstran did not have the crucial financial backing of groups like the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he came within about 4 percentage points of unseating Wagner. Two years later, the committee backed state Sen. Jill Schupp’s bid for Congress, but Wagner won by roughly 6 percentage points.

This time around, neither national party is investing much money in the district. The addition of Franklin and Warren counties made the district more Republican, though Gunby has said that she’s up for the challenge.

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Ann Wagner on Twitter: @AnnLWagner

Jason is the politics correspondent for St. Louis Public Radio.

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