In the St. Louis Post-Dispatch a couple of days ago Ann Wagner announced that she won’t be the Missouri Republican who will face Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill in 2018, but will instead run to retain her 2nd district House seat. It has been widely assumed that she was persuaded (forced?) by Missouri Republican luminaries to stand down in favor of another candidate – Attorney General, Josh Hawley seems to be the current fair-haired child of many of Missouri’s big GOP money and influence wielders.
Wagner offered the usual pablum about family considerations and, in typical treacly Wagner style, “love” for her 2nd district, as reasons for not taking up the cudgel against McCaskill – even though her intentions to do so had been obvious for some time. As the Post-Dispatch observed, she had already hired interns to handle the the added demands of the campaign.
Wagner also, however, seems to have hinted at another reason; the Post-Dispatch article implies that in the wake of the shooting of the Republican House Majority Whip, Rep. Steve Scalise, by a deranged individual a couple of weeks ago, Wagner intimated that she fears violence that could be directed at her and her family. This fear, it is implied, was the “significant event” that precipitated her decision not to run for the Senate:
The source said that Wagner was told after her decision that no one would believe that it was made solely on family considerations, “but that is what happened.”
And a significant event last week led up to it
Wagner visited Scalise, her close friend, in a hospital Wednesday, the source said. Scalise was shot and badly wounded while practicing for the annual congressional baseball game in Alexandria, Va., on June 14.
In an interview with the Post-Dispatch days after the shooting, Wagner said Scalise’s shooting had greatly affected her, and she spoke about threats made against her and her family.
Do you see the problem with this suggestion? Why, if Wagner is really worried by the possibility that a run for the Senate might lead to violence against her and her family, is she still planning to run for the House? Are House candidates magically exempt from threats faced by candidates for the Senate?
And the questions just keep popping up. Has any politician anywhere ever tried to get so much mileage out of a few protesters who are properly disturbed by her failure to acknowledge their concerns? Will Wagner be using this excuse retroactively? Did she, for instance, refuse to debate her last Democratic opponent, Bill Otto, or appear at open constituent meetings because she, delicate creature that she is, was afraid for her life? Will we be hearing endlessly about her fear of the naughty “leftists” during her future congressional tenure – however long that may be – whenever she is challenged to explain her policy preferences?
If Wagner is really that frightened about the consequences of holding public office, shouldn’t we work really hard to bring her home from Washington and let somebody, preferably a brave Democrat, go to Washington in her place? Seems like we’d really be doing her a big favor.
Finally, Does anyone else find this mock-subtle effort to leverage tragedy into political gain as tasteless and disgusting as I do?