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Politically Speaking: VanOstran on why Missouri's 2nd District should elect a Democrat

Missouri 2nd Congressional District Democratic candidate Cort VanOstran
Jason Rosenbaum I St. Louis Public Radio
Missouri 2nd Congressional District Democratic candidate Cort VanOstran

Cort VanOstran joins St. Louis Public Radio’s Jason Rosenbaum and Jo Mannies to talk about his Democratic bid in Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District.

VanOstran is squaring off against Republican Congresswoman Ann Wagner, a Ballwin Republican who has represented the 2nd Congressional District since 2013. The district includes parts of St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties.

The 29-year-old Clayton resident is an attorney for Gray Ritter & Graham. Before joining that St. Louis-based firm, VanOstran clerked for U.S. District judges Audrey Fleissig and John Ross. He also worked as a student law clerk for Missouri Supreme Court Judge Richard Teitelman.

The Joplin native was primarily raised by his mother after his father died when he was 8. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard University, and graduated from Washington University School of Law. VanOstran has been involved in Democratic politics for some time, serving as an intern for U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill and former Senate Minority Leader Jolie Justus.

VanOstran was one of five Democratic candidates who ran in the August primary for the 2nd Congressional District seat. He raised the most money out of the Democratic field — and ended up spending some of it on television ads. Ultimately, VanOstran comfortably won the primary — defeating Mark Osmack by about 18,000 votes.

The 2nd Congressional District is Republican-leaning. But VanOstran is hoping to harness Democratic enthusiasm, and antipathy against President Donald Trump, to get his campaign over the finish line.

Here’s what VanOstran had to say during the show:

  • He decided to jump into the 2nd Congressional District contest after Wagner voted for a bill that partially repealed the Affordable Care Act. “I think we are at a time in this country where there’s so much division, so much partisanship,” he said. “And we need leadership. And I think it’s time for a new generation of people to stand up and to offer a better path forward.”
  • He said he was dismayed a wide-ranging tax cut bill that was implemented last year had a major benefit toward corporations and the “very, very wealthiest Americans.”  “It was a trillion dollar credit card bill that we’ll end up leaving our kids with,” he said.
  • VanOstran would support expanding background checks for someone who wants to buy a firearm — and barring someone convicted of domestic violence from obtaining a gun.
  • He said that Trump is governing much differently from how he campaigned throughout the country in 2016. “This was a president who sold himself as a populist — someone who cared about working people,” he said. “And I think instead, we’ve seen an administration that has prioritized making sure that incredibly wealthy people continue to do well.”

Wagner is slated to record an episode of Politically Speaking in the coming weeks.
Follow Jason Rosenbaum on Twitter: @jrosenbaum

Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter: @jmannies

Follow Cort VanOstran on Twitter: @cortvo

Music: “Devils” by American Wrestlers

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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