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Democrats' bid to unseat Wagner hits television with Schupp advertisement

Democrats' bid to unseat Wagner hits television with Schupp advertisement

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Jill Schupp and Ann Wagner

Democrat Jill Schupp, left and Republican Ann Wagner

ST. LOUIS COUNTY — Missouri Sen. Jill Schupp’s challenge to unseat U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner moved to television Tuesday with her first advertisement ahead of the Nov. 3. election.

The advertisement from Schupp, a Democrat from Creve Coeur, profiles her background growing up in St. Louis County and her career in education and the state Senate.

The contest is among a handful of competitive House races targeted by national Democrats, who have reserved air time in coming weeks to support Schupp and other challengers to Republican incumbents in suburban swing districts.

That includes Illinois Republican U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, who is facing a repeat challenge from Betsy Dirksen Londrigan in Illinois’ 13th Congressional District. The district includes central Illinois and parts of the Metro East.

Wagner and Davis are among four Republican House incumbents the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee targeted in $2.2 million in television advertisements reserved for coming weeks, according to The Hill.

Londrigan, a Springfield-based fundraiser who has worked with Sen. Richard Durbin and other top Democrats, narrowly lost to Davis in 2018. Davis, of Taylorville, captured 50.4% of the vote to Londrigan’s 49.6%.

Londrigan on Tuesday released an advertisement focused on expanding health care insurance coverage, including for people with preexisting health conditions.

Wagner, of Ballwin, represents a suburban St. Louis district that includes parts of St. Louis, St. Charles and Jefferson counties and has favored Republicans in past years. In 2018 she defeated a challenge from first-time candidate Cort Van Ostran by a 4-point margin, which remains the closest a Democrat has come to unseating Wagner since she was elected in 2012.

Schupp, whose state senate district takes in a swath of St. Louis County that includes some of the area’s most affluent communities, announced her run against Wagner in December.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which analyzes the competitiveness of congressional contests, rated both St. Louis-area Congressional races as “tossups.”

The group, which had previously forecast Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District would “lean Republican,” cited Schupp’s recent fundraising and electoral record as one of a few Missouri Democrats to win a high-profile race in the last several election cycles.

Before her election to the Missouri House in 2008, Schupp served on the Ladue School Board and the Creve Coeur City Council. In 2014, after Republican state Sen. John Lamping announced he would not seek reelection, Schupp narrowly beat Jay Ashcroft to represent the 24th Senate District. Ashcroft is now secretary of state.

Schupp has raised more than Wagner in recent weeks, garnering more than $900,000 in contributions since April, compared to roughly $640,000 in contributions to Wagner, according to Federal Election Commission records.

Wagner held a financial advantage Tuesday with about $3.2 million in cash on hand, compared to Schupp’s campaign chest of $1.6 million.

Both Schupp and Wagner ran unopposed in the Aug. 4 primary; Schupp received 102,592 votes; Wagner got 63,404 votes. Libertarian Martin Schulte received 735 votes.

The primary also included a ballot amendment to expand Medicaid, which won by a 6-point margin statewide — 53% to 47% — and won narrowly in some traditionally Republican areas, including St. Charles County. In St. Louis County, the measure won a higher percentage of the vote than Hillary Clinton in 2016 and Claire McCaskill in 2018.

National Democrats point to the support for Medicaid, VanOstran’s run and Missouri state Rep. Trish Gunby’s electoral victory last year that flipped a Republican-held seat, as signs in Schupp’s favor.

“Schupp’s message as a fighter for middle-class families in this rapidly-changing district make this one of the Democrats’ top pickup opportunities in the country,” said Courtney Rice, a spokeswoman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, in a written statement.

Stephen Puetz, a spokesman for Wagner’s campaign, declined to say when her campaign ads would hit the airwaves. He pushed back against claims that the district’s politics are changing. “We think there will be a very clear difference between the two candidates and we look forward to talking about Congresswoman Wagner’s record and how she is delivering and working hard for families in the district.”

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Reporter covering breaking news and crime by night. Born in Algeria but grew up in St. Louis. Previously reported for The Associated Press in Jackson, Mississippi and at the Wichita Eagle in Wichita, Kansas.

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