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U.S. Rep. Wagner On GOP Leadership Role, Sex Trafficking And 2016

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Chris McDaniel, St. Louis Public Radio
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Every week, St. Louis Public Radio and the Beacon's Chris McDaniel, Jo Mannies and Jason Rosenbaum talk about the week’s politics. 

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U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, joined the Politically Speaking crew on this week’s show. Before she was elected to represent the 2nd congressional district in 2012, Wagner had served as the head of the Missouri Republican Party, co-chair of the Republican National Committee and then as ambassador to Luxembourg under President George W. Bush.

Since taking office in early 2013, she quickly has made her mark.  She already has won a congressional leadership position as the freshman representative to GOP leadership in the House.

On the show, Wagner said:

  • Being a part of GOP leadership has been “one of the most eye-opening and gratifying things” about her tenure in Congress. She says it allows her to give voice to the GOP’s freshman class and bring their “concerns” and “issues” to the forefront.
  • She was “surprised” to be ranked as the 8th most conservative legislator in the House of Representatives by the National Journal. She added she “doesn’t always vote with leadership”; recently she voted against raising the nation’s debt ceiling.
  • She’s working on moving pieces of legislation forward to add more “prosecutorial teeth” to combat sex trafficking. She’s teaming up with U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., to pass legislation going after “predators like Backpage.com and others that are advertising underage sex.”
  • Besides running for re-election, Wagner is making a concerted effort to get more women elected to Congress. “[In] our Republican conference, we have 234 members and only 19 are women,” she said. “That is a failure. And I just will do anything I can to improve those numbers.”
  • She expects a “competitive” GOP primary for governor in 2016. Wagner – who is backing former U.S. Attorney and House Speaker Catherine Hanaway – added that Republicans had to get cracking now, especially since Attorney General Chris Koster  has started amassing money for his likely Democratic gubernatorial bid. “The reason we need to get started now is because he has begun,” she said.

Follow Chris McDaniel on Twitter@csmcdaniel

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter@jmannies

Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter@jrosenbaum

Follow Ann Wagner on Twitter: @RepAnnWagner

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

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