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Government, Politics & Issues

Wagner Beats Schupp in Missouri's Nationally Watched 2nd Congressional District Race

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner waits outside her polling site to vote early Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020 at Ballwin Golf Course. She defeated Democratic 2nd Congressional District candidate Jill Schupp.
Theo R. Welling
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Special to St. Louis Public Radio
U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner waits outside her polling place at Ballwin Golf Course to vote early Tuesday. She defeated Democratic state Sen. Jill Schupp in the 2nd Congressional District race.

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner survived a strong challenge Tuesday from Democratic state Sen. Jill Schupp, keeping Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District in Republican hands.

Wagner, of Ballwin, bested Schupp in the district that takes in portions of St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties. With the victory, Wagner will serve her fifth term in the U.S. House.

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Wagner is widely seen as one of the most skilled political organizers and fundraisers in the state. After serving as chairwoman of the Missouri Republican Party and as ambassador to Luxembourg, Wagner first won the 2nd Congressional District seat in 2012. She easily won reelection in 2014 and 2016 in the district, which tilted heavily toward Republicans.

But things began to change in 2018, when Wagner narrowly defeated Democrat Cort VanOstran. The result was notable because VanOstran didn’t receive any help from crucial outside groups such as the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. Financial support from those groups is usually needed to defeat an incumbent or to flip the party’s partisan control.

In some respects, Wagner’s re-election campaign was linked to a backlash throughout St. Louis County against Trump’s words and deeds. Wagner emphasized that she disagreed with Trump’s approach and tone but banked on voters approving of his taxation and regulatory policies. Wagner was also a strong supporter of Trump’s nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It was a message that Wagner stressed when talking with reporters on Tuesday before voting with her family in Ballwin.

“I’ve always run an independent race,” Wagner said. “And served as an independent voice. I’m pleased with the record that I’ve been able to do in the past seven-plus years.”

She said her big priority would be rebuilding the country and the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“And there’s more that has to be done to get back to that pre-pandemic economy that we had to make sure we take the regulatory burden off of Americans,” Wagner said. “Keep their taxes low, especially as they begin their recovery. And make sure that they’re safe and secure.”

Congresswoman Ann Wagner exits the polls at the Ballwin Golf Course and Events Center on Election Day Tuesday, November 3, 2020.
Theo R. Welling
Wagner exits her polling site at the at the Ballwin Golf Course after casting her ballot Tuesday morning.

In a statement, Schupp said: “Congresswoman Wagner and I each made our case, and the voters made their choice.”

“These are painful, divided times for our state and our nation,” Schupp said. “The partisan bickering and name calling must come to an end. It is incumbent upon our leaders to reach across the aisle and work for the people who have elected us to represent them.”

The 2nd District could be in for major changes in the upcoming redistricting process.

Some St. Charles County Republicans, including state Sen. Bill Eigel, R-Weldon Spring, are openly talking about putting most or all of that county in the 2nd District. That would make the district lean much more to the Republican Party, but it could also make it more difficult for someone from St. Louis County, like Wagner, to win the district.

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Follow Jason on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

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