In Missouri, not all congressional districts are created equal.
Which is why both major U.S. Senate candidates – and their national allies – are paying significant attention to the 2nd District, which spans from south St. Louis County to St. Charles County. It also includes a sliver of Jefferson County.
For almost a decade, the 2nd District has produced more votes than its seven counterparts. The 2nd District also includes many of the suburban women voters that both sides covet.
To help capture these key votes, Democratic incumbent Claire McCaskill and her Republican rival, Josh Hawley, are engaging in joint field operations with their parties’ congressional candidates.
Although the 2nd District has skewed Republican, Democrats believe that energized progressives could help them close the gap. Both parties think their statewide candidates – especially the Senate contenders – will benefit from a strong 2nd District turnout.
The state Democratic Party has a joint get-out-the-vote effort in the 2nd to help McCaskill and its 2nd District candidate, Cort VanOstran, who has been particularly successful in raising money. The duo appeared together at a recent canvass kickoff in Kirkwood.
The Republican National Committee is overseeing a phone-bank operation in west St. Louis County where volunteers call potential voters to persuade them to back Hawley and U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner of Ballwin.
This weekend, Wagner and Hawley are expected to be campaigning in the 2nd, although at separate events.
And VanOstran is holding at least two events this week in the 2nd that are specifically targeting suburban women voters.
District has leaned Republican
Wagner is a former state GOP chairwoman and has represented the 2nd since 2013. She says she’s not surprised by broader political interest in the district.
“The St. Louis area is incredibly important in statewide elections,’’ she said, noting that the region usually provides close to 40 percent of the statewide vote.
Wagner added, “Voters in the 2nd Congressional District, in particular, are highly independent and engaged voters.”
VanOstran, a lawyer, agrees that the 2nd District is important beyond its borders.
“I feel a great amount of momentum,’’ he said.
VanOstran added that he’s proud that his efforts also could help McCaskill. “I got my start knocking on doors for Claire McCaskill in 2006,’’ he said. “So it’s a great honor to be running alongside her this year.”
McCaskill and Hawley are expected to be even more visible in the 2nd District in the closing weeks.
Follow Jo Mannies on Twitter:@jmannies