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Wagner touts support from conservative icon Schlafly

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 8, 2010 - Eagle Forum founder Phyllis Schlafly today endorsed former state Republican Party chairman and ambassador Ann Wagner in her bid to head the Republican National Committee.

Wagner, of St. Louis County, was touting Schlafly's support as evidence of Wagner's conservative roots and political skills.

Said Schlafly, of Ladue, in a statement: "We desperately need new, effective and capable leadership at the Republican National Committee to lead our conservative movement to victory in 2012. I am strongly endorsing Ann Wagner for RNC chairman. Ann Wagner is a winner, a doer and a leader. She has all of the tools and experience required to lead the Republican National Committee."

Wagner replied, "I am grateful for Phyllis' support and the decades of service and leadership she has provided to our conservative movement. As a conservative woman, she has been a trailblazer and a true champion for the conservative beliefs and causes we hold dear.

"I know that many conservative Republicans share my view that we need new leadership for a new direction at the RNC. I believe I offer the full package of experience, background and conservative credentials that we need in our next RNC chair. Most importantly, I know how to win elections."

The blog buzz about Schlafly's endorsement has been mixed. Although Schlafly definitely has some influence with national Republican leaders, some activists say that more weight may be given to Wagner's comments last week in which she pledged to focus primarily on raising money so that the national RNC can play a larger role in the 2012 elections.

In 2010, outside conservative groups spent far more money -- and arguably had more influence in various key congressional races around the country, including Missouri's U.S. Senate contest.

U.S. Sen-elect Roy Blunt, R-Mo., offered up strong praise for Wagner today in an interview with Beacon Washingon correspondent Robert Koenig. Wagner had served as the campaign chair for Blunt, who trounced his Democratic rival, Missouri Secretary of State Robin Carnahan.

"She was a very effective state chairman," Blunt told Koenig. "When you talk about the development of the Missouri Republican Party, we've had lots of good chairmen -– none of them better than Ann. And Ann was the chair when we finally took over the Legislature for the first time in over 50 years.

"Ann saw really positive changes in our party. She has been involved in Republican politics at every level -– from precinct committeewoman to national committee co-chair.

As RNC chair, "She would be great," Blunt said. "I'm wholeheartedly supportive of her."

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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