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Missouri GOP tries to remove Wagner's only primary challenger from ballot

Missouri GOP tries to remove Wagner's only primary challenger from ballot

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The Missouri Republican Party is making a long-shot attempt to expel a candidate from the GOP primary ballot, on grounds that she is a "Trojan Horse" whose campaign is actually designed to help Democrats unseat U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin.

The candidate, Noga Sachs, a political novice, is Wagner's only formal challenger in the Aug. 7 Republican primary.

"The (Missouri Republican Party) has discovered evidence that you are not, in fact, a Republican candidate," the law firm Husch Blackwell, representing the state party, says in a letter sent to Sachs this week.

Sam Cooper, the state party's executive director, said Thursday that Sachs' social media footprint indicates she is a supporter of Democratic candidates and positions.

"We treat our primary system very seriously. We will not allow 'Trojan Horse' candidates," Cooper said. "The Republican Party is a big-tent party . . . but we have ideals we adhere to."

The law firm also sent a $100 check to Sachs, returning the filing fee she paid to the party get on the primary ballot.

But the rules regarding candidacy make it unlikely the party can actually force Sachs off the ballot. And Sachs said Thursday she doesn't intend to leave it willingly.

"I'm not going to cash that check," Sachs said in an interview. "I have every intention of pursuing my candidacy, if for no other reason that there was a candidate (Wagner) who was uncontested."

The law firm sent another letter the same day, Tuesday, to Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft, whose office oversees the state's election system, requesting that Sachs "be promptly removed from the ballot."

A spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's office declined to discuss that specific request. But she said that, in general, parties have no grounds to demand removal of candidates from ballots once they're paid the appropriate fees to the party and fulfilled the other requirements.

"All we care about is what the law requires them to file," said the spokeswoman, Maura Browning.

The Republican Party hasn't alleged that Sachs has failed to properly file for her candidacy.

A review of Sachs' social media turns up examples in which she expresses support for Democratic former President Barack Obama and the Democratic Party generally, as well as criticism of Republican President Donald Trump.

Sachs on Thursday insisted her campaign is real, and that she does see the Republican Party as a venue for pursuing the humanitarian goals she espouses online.

"It looks like the Democratic side cares about people, but they just throw money at a thing and expect it to take care of itself," she said. Republicans, she said, have a "more structured" approach that could be more effective.

The winner of the Aug. 7 Republican primary will face off in the Nov. 6 general election against one of five candidates seeking the Democratic nomination on the same day. The Libertarian and Green parties are fielding one candidate each.

Democrats are targeting Wagner's suburban St. Louis district this year amid signs that the region is becoming more Democratic, but most experts still put odds on a Wagner re-election in November.

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