Ann Wagner forms congressional exploratory committee: behind the scenes player flirts with the spotlight

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Ann Wagner, a Republican operative who ran for Republican National Committee chair in January, announced today the formation of an exploratory committee for Congress. She plans to run for Republican Rep. Todd Akin’s seat in Missouri’s second congressional district, assuming that he vacates the seat to run for Senate, as expected.

Wagner has always been sort of a behind the scenes player – she ran Roy Blunt’s successful campaign for Senate in 2010, and before that she served as Ambassador to Luxembourg. She was also chair of the Missouri Republican party for a time, and she co-chaired the RNC. But now she has decided to make a play for a leading role.

“For the first time in the life I feel compelled to put my own name on the ballot for office … for the first time I feel compelled to try to be a part of my solution myself,” she said. “And we’ll see where things go.”

Asked how it feels to be in the spotlight now, she was enthusiastic. “I’m excited, I’m energized, and I’m ready to get to work,” she said.

Her game plan is not entirely certain. Missouri is in the process of redistricting, having lost a congressional seat after the census, and the new design of the second district is not yet set. But the expected shape has Wagner optimistic.

“The new congressional district appears to be one that is sort of a perfect fit for Ann Wagner majority,” she told The Daily Caller. As it stands, the district is “majority St. Louis County based … which is where I was born and raised and went to school and helped my parents start their small business,” she said.

Her second hesitation is that Akin has not yet announced his plan to run for Senate, though it is widely expected that he will do so. But if he chooses to run for re-election, Wagner will not challenge him.

“I have no intention of primarying Congressman Akin,” Wagner said.

Wagner had formerly pondered a run for Senate to challenge Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, but that is now off the table, even if Akin chooses not to challenge McCaskill.

“I believe it will be an open seat,” she said. “I believe it’s going to be a newly drafted district. And I’m really hoping I have the opportunity.”

Wagner said that she’s really running “as the mother of three kids, two of whom are about to graduate college. I don’t know what kind of slice of the American dream they’re going to have.”

“I think it’s time for good people to not stand on the sidelines and to step in themselves,” she said.