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Wagner announces power campaign team of Hanaway, Hancock and Roe

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Aug. 5, 2011 - Republican 2nd District congressional candidate Ann Wagner is highlighting her powerful political ties by announcing a campaign team of prominent GOP veterans, led by former state House Speaker Catherine Hanaway, most recently U.S. attorney for eastern Missouri.

Hanaway is, now a partner in a law firm co-founded by John Ashcroft, a former Missouri governor and senator. Hanaway is to serve as Wagner's campaign chairman -- a post often filled by a political ally of status who is capable of speaking in public on behalf of the candidate. Hanaway attended Wagner's kickoff and may be considering a future return to politics.

But arguably just as significant, for political insiders, is Wagner's hiring of two of the state's most prominent Republican operatives -- former state GOP executive director John Hancock, who runs a nationally known consulting firm that specializes in opposition research, and Jeff Roe, long the best-known Republican consultant in western Missouri.

Roe and his firm, Axiom Strategies, are based in Kansas City. Roe has worked for several dozen congressional candidates around the country. In Missouri, he is close to U.S. Rep. Sam Graves, R-Tarkio, and has worked on campaigns for U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman. Roe is known for his bare-knuckle tactics, which has made him popular and feared within political circles.

Hancock -- a longtime close friend to Wagner -- runs John Hancock & Associates, based in St. Louis County. Hancock is a former state legislator and, since stepping down a decade ago running for the state party, has been a consultant to a number of national figures, including former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney in his 2008 presidential campaign.

Hancock also often is a fill-in radio host on KMOX and is known for his skills on the piano (and his pitch-perfect imitation of Ashcroft).

Wagner also has hired the region's best known Republican fundraiser, Karen Mohan Day, who runs Capital Enhancement. Day has been a familiar behind-the-scenes figure for a number of statewide Republican campaigns, most recently Blunt's U.S. Senate campaign last year.

Wagner's media operations are to be handled by Rex Elsass and the Strategy Group for Media, and her pollster is to be Wilson Perkins Allen Opinion Research, also known as WPA Opinion Research. Elsass' team previously has worked for the current 2nd District congressman, Republican Todd Akin, who is running for the U.S. Senate.

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