In a move that shows the critical importance of St. Louis to his campaign, Congressman Roy Blunt tapped former U.S. ambassador and Republican heavyweight Ann Wagner to chair his bid for U.S. Senate next year.
"Ann Wagner is the most effective and successful statewide Republican campaigner in decades." said Blunt in a statement. "She is the best possible person for this critical leadership role," he added.
"She will be very involved in the decisions we are making, the overall direction of the campaign and will have a lot of input on policy, but won't be bogged down in the day to day management," Blunt spokesman Rich Chrismer told The Notebook.
Blunt said he chose Wagner "because no one has greater knowledge and capability to produce a tremendous Republican vote in the St. Louis area."
With the Carnahan family entrenched in the St. Louis region, Blunt will need a big GOP turnout in the surrounding counties if he's to defeat his likely Democratic opponent Robin Carnahan.
The goal will likely be to contain Carnahan's margin in St. Louis County. In 2008, candidate Barack Obama defeated John McCain there by 20 points. But in St. Charles County, McCain beat Obama by about 10 points.
In 2006, candidate Claire McCaskill beat then Sen. Jim Talent by 12 points in St. Louis County. In St. Charles County, Talent beat McCaskill by about 9 points.
In addition to her four-year term as ambassador to Luxembourg, Wagner was co-chair of the Republican National Committee for two terms and was chair of the Missouri Republican Party for more than six years.
"Robin Carnahan is Missouri's Nancy Pelosi. She would serve as a weak rubber stamp for whatever the national liberals want to do and lacks the credentials to serve in the U.S. Senate," said Wagner in the Blunt campaign statement.
The Missouri Democratic Party portrayed Wagner as Washington insider who's been part of the "money merry-go-round."
But the addition of Wagner is the latest sign that Blunt has consolidated the support of most of the major Republican players in the state around his campaign.