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Rep. Ann Wagner skips bid to challenge Claire McCaskill

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner (R-MO). (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A top Republican recruit announced Monday she wouldn’t challenge Sen. Claire McCaskill for her Senate seat in 2018, sparing the Missouri Democrat a potentially stiff challenge in the high-stakes midterm elections next year.

Rep. Ann Wagner said that she would instead run for reelection to the House of Representatives in a statement to the Washington Examiner on Monday. Wagner’s office confirmed to CNN that she would not run for the Senate seat.

“Those who know me well know I put my family and my community first,” she told the Examiner. “While I am grateful for the incredible support and encouragement I have received from across Missouri to run for United States Senate, I am announcing today my intention to run for re-election to the United States House of Representatives in 2018.”

She added, “The 2nd District is my home. It’s where I grew up, went to school, have worked and volunteered, raised my kids, and attend church every week — there is no greater honor than representing a place and people that I love.”

CNN has reached out to McCaskill’s office for comment and have not yet received a response.

McCaskill won reelection to the Senate in 2012 against challenger Todd Akin, whose campaign was derailed after his controversial comments about “legitimate rape” and abortion. McCaskill defeated Akin by nearly 15 points, though she had been expected to struggle in the race prior to Akin’s self-destruction. Her seat is seen as among the most vulnerable for incumbent Democrats in 2018.

Wagner is member of the House foreign affairs committee and serves as the chair of the oversight and investigations subcommittee of the House financial services committee — positions which afford her meaningful influence in the chamber. She was viewed as top potential challenger for McCaskill.

Still, Wagner’s decision to forego a Senate bid — in a solidly red state the last few cycles — also reflects the reluctance of some Republicans to raise their political profile in what looks to be a caustic and challenging election cycle. Potentially strong Republican challengers in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Indiana — all states Trump won — have so far declined bids.

By David Wright, CNN