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Wagner, Martin Get Early Start

The 2nd District candidates are set to debate each other this week.

When is it too early to get fired up about a congressional race? If you’re addicted to the sweet, sweet nectar that is Missouri politics, the answer is never.

Still, “early” was admittedly the first word that came to mind with debate season starting up between GOP congressional aspirants Ed Martin and Ann Wagner. The two are running for the Republican nomination in the 2nd Congressional District, which encompasses St. Louis County, St. Charles County and Jefferson County.

For what it’s worth, filing for the race doesn’t begin until early next year. And the primary itself isn’t until August 2012.

The candidates are expected to debate at 3 p.m. Saturday at the Drury Plaza Hotel in Chesterfield. Wagner sent out an email on Wednesday asking supporters to attend the event, while Martin already has a list of forums going into next year on his website.

The long debate stretch come as both candidates are using notable supporters to drum up enthusiasm. For Wagner, that included an event with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie in Clayton. In addition to raising money for Wagner, Christie also headlined a fundraiser for the Missouri Republican Party.

“Ann’s the real deal. We need strong and clear voices like Ann Wagner on the floor of the House of Representatives,” Christie said in a statement put out by Wagner’s campaign. “This will be good for Missouri, this will be good for America if you send somebody with her character, her integrity, her intellect and her passion to the United States Congress. I will do whatever I can over the next thirteen months to ensure her campaign is a successful one.”

Christie has been garnering more attention recently because of increased speculation he’ll run for president. While he’s consistently begged off suggestions that he should run, the noise around a phantom candidacy continues.

And if the debates between Martin and Wagner are early, Christie entering the race would be considered late. That’s especially true with an Oct. 31 deadline for the potentially crucial Florida primary.

Meanwhile, Martin’s campaign sent out an email from conservative political activist Phyllis Schlafy. Schlafy, of course, was a key opponent of the Equal Rights Amendment and has backed Martin’s campaign for Congress.

The Schlafy appeal asks for donations before an impending quarterly fundraising deadline.

“Like the majority of Americans, Ed understands that our Constitution is being ripped apart every day by the progressive agenda,” Schlafy said. “Once elected, I promise you he will lead the charge in repealing ‘Obamacare’ and defend American values under constant bombardment from the Far Left.”

No democratic candidate has announced a run for the seat, though it's possible U.S. Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-St. Louis) could jump in the race.

DÉJÀ VU?

The Christie visit for Wagner brings to mind Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s stop in western St. Louis County earlier this year on behalf of Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder.

Perry’s visit to Hunter Farms was made right before he decided to jump into the scramble for the GOP nomination. Perry was seen as a viable alternative to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who at the time was the front-runner for the nomination.

When Perry entered the race, he wrestled away the lead in many national opinion polls. But his fortunes have declined after uneven debate performances and a dismal showing in the Florida straw poll. Coincidently, Christie’s presidential profile became the topic du jour on the same day he campaigned with Wagner.

While Romney’s front-running status may extend into primary season, it may be too early to count out Perry. After all, the longtime Texas pol has been winning elections for decades and could still have the financial resources to compete when the votes start getting tallied That could change in the unlikely event that Christie jumps in the race.

R.I.P. ED ROBB

I was deeply saddened to hear that former Rep. Ed Robb (R-Columbia) passed away late Saturday.

Many people in mid-Missouri have already touched on Robb’s embrace of big ideas, his sense of humor and his mastery of numbers. As someone who covered Robb extensively in Columbia, I am grateful that I was able to witness all these qualities for myself.

Gov. Jay Nixon honored Robb on Wednesday by ordering flags to flown at half-staff in Boone County. And U.S. Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer—a St. Elizabeth Republican who represents portions of St. Charles County—said in a statement that Robb’s bond with the “folks of Boone County was a special one, and his understanding of local issues was both unique and incredibly insightful.”

My sincere condolences go out to Robb’s family. May he rest in peace.

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