Wagner Gets Two Democratic Challengers

Comes after she passes on run for McCaskill’s Senate seat

Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner faces at least two Democratic challengers with several others considering a run. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

After passing on a Senate run next year, Missouri Rep. Ann Wagner is facing at least two Democratic challengers in the 2018 race for her seat.


Wagner’s challengers include suburban St. Louis lawyer Cort VanOstran, and lawyer Kelli Dunaway, The Associated Press reported.


Wagner announced last week that she would not challenge Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill. The decision came as the state’s Republican Attorney General Josh Hawley has been floated as a potential challenger to McCaskill.


Despite turning down the race, Wagner still has a large campaign war chest. Between January and March of this year, she raised more than $804,000 and had $2.7 million in cash on hand.


Wagner, currently serving her third term in Congress, won re-election in 2016 comfortably defeating her Democratic challenger, 59 percent to 38 percent in Missouri’s 2nd District. 


Both of VanOstran and Dunaway cited Wagner’s recent vote to replace the 2010 health care law as a reason for them jumping into the race.


Several other Democrats are reported to be considering a challenge to Wagner, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported: St. Louis School Board member Bill Haas, who lost the race for the 2nd District in 2008; Mark Osmack, 35, an Army veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan; and Sam Gladney, 33, a lawyer an Army Iraq War veteran.


VanOstran, who teaches law at Washington University, is the son of a single mother who died of cancer last year. He said he’s running in part to ensure that people like his mother, who bought insurance on the health care exchange, continue to be covered.


Dunaway was a field organizer for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign and a California Democratic Party delegate. 


Democrats had targeted Wagner’s seat while she was considering a run for Senate. VanOstran told the Post-Dispatch he had talked to New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Luján, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, about the race.


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