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First Democrat announces run for Missouri’s 2nd District

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A St. Louis-area Democrat said Thursday that he plans to run for the 2nd Congressional District seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, a Republican.

Ben Samuels, 30, of Creve Coeur, is the first Democrat to enter the race for the suburban St. Louis seat.

Wagner, who has been elected five times, has not said if she will seek re-election. She has expressed interest in seeking the U.S. Senate seat held by retiring U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a fellow Republican.

Samuels most recently worked as director of special projects for Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, from 2019 to June 2021. Samuels said he worked remotely from St. Louis County during the pandemic.

He said he was motivated to run by the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by thousands of supporters of former President Donald Trump.

“Anti-voting rights, anti-democracy, election denialism has become table stakes for the vast majority of elected Republicans, like Ann Wagner,” Samuels said.

Wagner broke with other Missouri Republicans to uphold the results of the 2020 election and called the Capitol attack “despicable.” But Samuels said she had supported a court case challenging the election and had voted against a commission to study the insurrection.

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