November’s fight for control of Congress will be waged largely in America’s suburbs, where neither party has a lock and Donald Trump’s controversial presidency will weigh heavily on voters’ minds. Missouri’s 2nd congressional district, encompassing the western and southern suburbs of St. Louis, is a prime example. Incumbent Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, won her fourth term in 2018 by the closest margin of her career. She is so vulnerable this time, the nonpartisan Cook Political Report has rated the nationally watched race a “tossup.”
Despite the district’s political diversity, Wagner remains the same stalwart Republican partisan she’s always been, obediently toeing the party line and refusing to raise a peep of protest as Trump bungles the pandemic response, worsens racial tensions, weakens affordable health care, abuses his office and issues ever-more ominous threats to undermine the upcoming election. Add to that Wagner’s continuing lack of public accountability, and it’s clear she doesn’t deserve a fifth term.
Wagner’s Democratic challenger, state Sen. Jill Schupp, makes clear that this bipartisan district needs representation that focuses on the citizens’ needs, not Trump’s. We recommend Schupp in the Nov. 3 election.
In October 2016, when the world heard a recording of Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women (“When you’re famous, they let you do it”), Wagner briefly took a principled stand, withdrawing her earlier endorsement and calling for Trump to leave the ticket. But apparently fearful of retaliation from Trump’s base, Wagner soon announced she would be voting for the man whose comments she had called “predatory and reprehensible.” She’s been a reliable Trump enabler ever since.
Since she knows she would be challenged on her record if she ever submitted to an editorial board interview or town hall meeting, she avoids them like the plague. She predictably declined our invitation for a candidate interview, has avoided committing to a debate against Schupp, and is infamous for hesitating to directly face her constituents in unscripted settings.
Schupp, 65, of Creve Coeur, met with the editorial board remotely and laid out her priorities, including pandemic response, health care and public education (she’s a former teacher and local school board president). On those and other topics, she has staked out ground near the center of Democratic Party thinking, eschewing the more left-leaning positions. For example, contrary to a Wagner ad that falsely accuses Schupp of supporting “Medicare for all,” she actually opposes that idea, favoring instead policies that would strengthen Obamacare and offer a public option but also allow people to keep their private insurance if they want.
This is the definition of centrism, and it isn’t an accident. “This is a split district” politically, noted Schupp, which she said heightens the importance of listening “to both sides.” All of America could use that kind of break from bullheaded partisanship, but it’s especially important in a district like the 2nd.
Libertarian Martin Schulte of Ballwin is also on the ballot.
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