2020 elections

Missouri Democrats Said to Expect Gun Control Activist to Challenge Ann Wagner

Becky Morgan, leader of state’s Moms Demand Action chapter, could launch House bid next month, strategists say

Rep. Ann Wagner (R-Mo,) introduced paid family leave legislation on March 27 in Washington. Wagner defeated her Democratic challenger last year by 4 points. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

After coming closer in 2018 than they have in over two decades to beating a Republican incumbent in Missouri’s 2nd District, Democrats are looking again to unseat Rep. Ann Wagner, this time with a gun control activist. 

Four Democratic activists and strategists in Missouri said they expect Becky Morgan, who leads the Missouri chapter of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, to launch a campaign for the party’s nod as soon as next month, after the July 1 start of the third fundraising quarter of the year. They asked not to be identified because they were expecting Morgan to make her own announcement soon. 

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has placed Missouri’s 2nd District on its early list of targeted seats. One Democratic strategist in the Show Me State said the committee has been involved with efforts to recruit Morgan.

Missouri’s 2nd District, home to prosperous suburbs and exurbs of St. Louis, has traditionally been a solid hold for the Republican Party. It sent Todd Akin to Congress six times before his ill-fated Senate campaign against incumbent Democrat Claire McCaskill in 2012, and voters backed Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney over then-President Barack Obama in 2012 and Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016 by double digits, according to a Daily Kos analysis.

But like other parts of American suburbia — such as Kansas’ 3rd District about three and a half hours west — things have changed since Trump took office. 

The well-funded campaign of St. Louis attorney Cort VanOstran secured 47 percent in 2018, 4 points shy of Wagner’s vote share in a district she had carried by more than 20 points in her three previous general-election campaigns.

While VanOstran has not publicly said whether he will run again, on Twitter he has spoken highly of the work local activists such as Morgan put in during his race last year. Democrats involved in campaigns in Missouri said they do not expect him to run again this time around. 

VanOstran did not answer a question about his intent to run, but he said Tuesday by text message, “Becky Morgan is a smart, committed, effective leader with deep roots in the district. She’d be a great candidate for Congress.”

Morgan’s own Twitter account — once @Rebecca_221B — recently went dark but came back online as @BeckyJMorgan

Morgan, who hasn’t weighed in publicly on her intentions, declined to comment. 

DCCC spokesman Jared Smith did not confirm whether the group was interested in Morgan but said in an email Tuesday, “We feel confident that we’ll have a strong candidate for this seat.”

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