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Congressional incumbents Wagner and Bush win reelection bids

From the Missouri approves recreational marijuana; Schmitt wins and more election coverage series
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ST. LOUIS COUNTY — Ann Wagner and Cori Bush, two local congresswomen poles apart in their views and records, rolled up solid reelection victories Tuesday night.

Wagner, a conservative Republican from Town and Country, had a 55%-to-43% edge over Democrat Trish Gunby, a state representative from west St. Louis County, in final returns from the 2nd Congressional District.

Bush, a St. Louis Democrat who lines up with the left wing of House members from her party, was backed by about 73% of 1st Congressional District voters in her race against Republican Andrew Jones. Finishing far behind in both contests were Libertarian candidates.

Wagner, in a victory statement, thanked voters and said “there is no better feeling than representing our conservative, Midwest values in Congress. Let’s get back to work.”

She said she would push back “on the Democrats’ radical agenda that has recklessly spent trillions of your taxpayer dollars.”

The 2nd, which had been considered a swing district in the last two election cycles, became more Republican-oriented under a reapportionment plan passed last May by the Missouri Legislature.

The district remains rooted in west and south St. Louis County. It also includes Franklin County and parts of St. Charles and Warren counties.

The 1st District kept its heavily Democratic flavor under the redistricting map. Bush had no trouble dispatching Jones, a St. Louis resident and utility executive who ran unsuccessfully for mayor last year and in 2017. The district takes in St. Louis and a large swath of north and central St. Louis County.

“St. Louis, it is the honor of my life to represent you in Congress,” Bush said in a celebratory tweet as it became clear she would win. “It will be my privilege to continue serving you as your Congresswoman. I love you.”

Wagner, 60, in her campaign echoed other Republicans in focusing on rising inflation under President Joe Biden’s administration, citing rising prices of groceries and gasoline in her TV commercials.

Her Democratic opponent, Gunby, 62, emphasized her support for legal abortion, hoping to appeal to voters worried about the U.S. Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that allows states to outlaw the practice.

Missouri is among the states that has done that, except in the case of a medical emergency. Wagner is a longtime ally of the state’s anti-abortion movement.

Gunby, in a telephone interview Tuesday night, said she had hoped that the cost of living, while on voters’ minds, wouldn’t outweigh subjects she talked about such as abortion, gun violence and climate change.

“My race was mainly focused on long-term issues” while it turned out the electorate was worried about the short term, she said.

Bush, 46, was first elected two years ago after upsetting longtime U.S. Rep. Lacy Clay in the 2020 Democratic primary. In August of this year, she easily turned back a challenge from another well-funded local Democrat, state Sen. Steve Roberts.

Bush’s campaign highlighted her votes to bring $1 billion in stimulus money to the region and more than $9 million in earmarks for organizations working on issues such as homelessness, gun violence and health care access.

She also touted her protest on the Capitol steps last year that helped spur the White House to extend a nationwide ban on evictions before it was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jones, 61, complained that Bush was “a socialist ideologue” who divides people based upon income, race and background.

He expressed concern about the impact of inflation, crime and a chronically underperforming education system.

Three other GOP U.S. House members representing parts of the metro area also were reelected Tuesday.

They are Reps. Blaine Luetkemeyer of St. Elizabeth, Jason Smith of Salem and Sam Graves of Tarkio. Luetkemeyer’s 3rd District takes in parts of St. Charles, Jefferson and Warren counties. Smith’s 8th District includes part of Jefferson and Graves’ 6th District includes Lincoln County.

Luetkemeyer, Smith and Graves were opposed, respectively, by Democrats Bethany Mann, Randi McCallian and Henry Martin.

Two new Republican members of Congress were elected Tuesday in other parts of the state.

Mark Alford, a former Kansas City TV news anchor from suburban Raymore, defeated Democrat Jack Truman of Lamar to succeed Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler in the 4th District.

And state Sen. Eric Burlison of the Springfield area beat Democrat Kristen Radaker-Sheafer of Joplin to replace GOP Rep. Billy Long in the 7th District.

Hartzler and Long gave up their seats to run losing bids for their party’s U.S. Senate nomination in the August GOP primary.

Metro East

Democrat Nikki Budzinski declared victory in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District race, turning away a challenge from Republican Regan Deering to win her first House election.

Budzinski, of Springfield, had a 54% to 46% lead over Deering, of Decatur, in nearly complete returns. The string bean-shaped district, reapportioned by Springfield Democrats to favor their party, stretches from East St. Louis to Champaign-Urbana.

Budzinski, a former official in Biden and Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administrations, pledged to find common ground with Republicans and bring civility back to Washington.

“I will work with anyone that will lift up the communities in central and southern Illinois regardless of their party or their ideology,” she told supporters in Springfield on Tuesday night.

Two Republican House incumbents whose newly drawn districts include other parts of Metro East — Reps. Mike Bost of Murphysboro and Mary Miller of Oakland — won reelection by big margins.

Lee Enterprises and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Updated at noon Wednesday, Nov. 9.(tncms-asset)63127aea-5fae-11ed-b70e-00163ec2aa77[1](/tncms-asset)

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