Picking a GOP Candidate Can be Tough

Wagner was my frontrunner, but Jotte is hard to ignore.

Looking at the candidates to replace Todd Akin’s Second Congressional District seat, you best look at the Republican candidates, because the odds of a Democrat carrying West County and parts of St. Charles County are not very good.

At first, I thought it would be difficult to support Ann Wagner. She was a party insider having served as chair of the state GOP and co-chair of the National Republican Party.

I prefer party outsiders. They are more fun. They usually shoot from the hip in speeches and when answering questions.

Who's Ray?

Then there is Ann’s husband, Raymond Wagner, a vice president with Enterprise Rent-a-Car. I don’t like Enterprise.

Once in 2003 when I came to St. Louis to visit my mother, I rented an Enterprise car at the airport. I was pulled over on Big Bend Boulevard by Maplewood police. The car had expired license plates. I didn’t get a ticket, but I was ticked off at Enterprise.

A few years later, when I moved back to St. Louis, I had to drop my car off at a body shop to get a new door handle. I went to Enterprise on Brentwood Boulevard. Before driving off in a rental car, I checked the license plates. The plates were two months expired. The manager said his employees must have just missed it. For two months?

More recently, Enterprise has been fighting proposed Federal legislation to require rental car companies to fix recalled cars before renting them out. However, Enterprise and other companies have continued to rent the cars since some of the recalled models could represent a sizable portion of their fleets.

They have also been accused of selling used cars without disclosing they don’t have side airbags.

Actually, the real problem I have with Ray Wagner is that he is a lobbyist for Enterprise. He says he is no longer a “registered lobbyist” since Ann is running for Congress. However his title is “Vice President of Governmental Affairs.” That is political-speak for “corporate lobbyist.”

Politico.com reported last fall how in one quarter Ann Wagner received $108,000 in campaign contributions from people across the nation working for Enterprise. I find it absolutely amazing that people in Oregon and Nevada have an interest in the Second Congressional race in Missouri.  

Conservative commentator Tucker Carlson’s website The Daily Caller, claims that Wagner received even more donations from Enterprise employees but that they were hidden by being donated in the name of a spouse of an Enterprise employee.

Not Martin

That being said, I was all for Wagner because her original opponent for the GOP nomination was Ed Martin, a person I don’t much like.

Martin was chief of staff for “Boy Governor” Matt Blunt. He was with the Blunt administration when they sold 16 acres and the Missouri Highway Patrol Troop C headquarters on Highway 40 at Mason Road and moved to two acres in St. Charles. (That move destroyed long-range, foresighted planning that placed the highway patrol in the state’s most populous county, at a prime location.) 

On top of that, there was the email scandal where Martin had state's staff attorney Scott Eckersley fired for supplying correct legal advice that the governor's emails were subject to public scrutiny under the Sunshine Law—and could not be destroyed without legal reprecussions. 

Eckersley sued the state and won, costing taxpayers about $1.5 million. Having worked for city and county governments, I have always taken a dislike to employees being punished for doing their job.

Therefore, when it came to the Second Congressional District race, I was for anyone who would keep Martin off the government payroll.

In January, Martin withdrew from the race. Wagner was out-fundraising Martin by a large margin.

Regular Wagner   

Turns out there were other reasons to like Ann Wagner. For four years she was the ambassador to the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. 

Now one of my favorite movies is The Mouse That Roared starring Peter Sellers. It was set in the tiny fictional country of The Duchy of Grand Fenwick.  

I have to like most people associated with countries that have Grand and Duchy in their name.

Then, for four years Wagner had to deal with people who speak French. I admire that in a person. I have a tough time after a day in Quebec—or two days in France.

Despite having been a national GOP fundraiser and ambassador, Wagner doesn’t live in Ladue. She lives in Ballwin. They live next to a golf course, but it's a public golf course. Also, they don’t pay much more than I do in property taxes, and I’m a retired cop and part-time journalist.

Finally, Ann Wagner is a Thursday night regular at Smitty’s Bar and Grill on Clayton at Baxter Road. I've heard most of the fat-cat Republicans in West County eat at Annie Gunn’s or Napoli II.

Now I'm a regular regular at Smitty’s. So it's hard to dislike someone who is a regular at Chesterfield's neighborhood tavern on chicken-fried-steak night, where the entrees start at $7.50.

Who's Randy?

But now, Randy Jotte announced he is in the Second Congressional District Republican primary race. He lives in Webster Groves, in the Webster Park subdivision off Lockwood Avenue that is filled with large 120-year-old homes. He was on the city council for six years. I grew up in Webster Groves.

Compared to Wagner, Jotte is definitely the outsider. Of course I like outsiders. Jotte is an ER doctor. I worked as an emergency responder for a large portion of my life. 

Jotte has some negatives though for me, just like Wagner.

  • He went to Harvard medical school. I am tired of politicians who went to Ivy League schools. But at least it's not Harvard Law.
  • Jotte is now in his 50s and does not appear to have an ounce of body fat. That could mean I don’t have much in common with him.  

So, all the candidates so far in the race are Catholic. Martin was a lawyer for the archdiocese during the time of swap-a-priest, but he's out of the race anyway.

I was raised Catholic, so that's no tie-breaker in my decision between Wagner and Jotte. I need to find where Jotte eats out on a Thursday night.       

Randy Jotte February 29, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Preferably, barbequing baby back ribs on the Weber kettle on the back patio.
Scott Simon April 11, 2012 at 05:50 PM
Randy, good luck to you in your campaign. A salute to a fellow DeSmet grad!


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