Former 2nd District Democrat candidate blasts primary opponents

A former candidate who hoped to unseat Congresswoman Ann Wagner from the Missouri 2nd District blasted other Democrats as she made her exit.

Last month, Kelli Dunaway dropped out of the four-way Democrat primary race stating in an interview with Daily Kos, that she had a difficult time raising money as the other candidates and stated that there was an establishment problem.

“It’s a structural problem,” Dunaway told Daily Kos. “The system is set up so that only two kinds of people can successfully run for office: People who are wealthy, or people who are retired. There’s no place for a single mom. I was trying as hard as I could. But I felt anxious and stressed, because I was disappointing everyone. I wasn’t a good Mom, I wasn’t a good employee, and I wasn’t a good candidate.”

Additionally, the former candidate said it was frustrating to see fellow women in power not giving her a chance because she got in the race later and these elite endorsers backed other primary candidates.

“The problem is that it just can’t be the candidates. Women have care enough to get involved and other people have to care to get involved. Right now it’s the white guys writing the checks and getting out there and doing a lot of the work that it takes to get a nominee and then to get them elected. I think that for that to change, for a more diverse legislature is going to require people of diverse backgrounds getting involved, knocking on doors, writing checks — being part of campaigns, being part of the change.”

In the primary, Dunaway was facing Mark Osmack, an Army veteran and former aide to then-U.S. Rep. Tammy Duckworth, St. Louis School board member Bill Haas, and Cort VanOstran, a Harvard grad and visiting lecturer at Washington University School of Law.

Cort VanOstran

In October, according to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) website, VanOstran had $182,395 cash on hand to spend towards defeating Wagner, which is more than $100,000 over any other Democratic challenger.

Dunaway was listed to have raised $46,080 with $23,246 on hand, Osmack with $26,732 on hand, and Haas planning to contribute $25,000 each quarter.

Although she said the fundraising aspect of the race was frustrating, Dunaway did give credit to VanOstran for his strong ability to raise money.

“I think where I did myself the greatest disservice was not spending time lining up early support. That is a long arduous process and for my opponent who did do that, he deserves credit,” she said. “He busted his tail to do what he did and to come out as strongly as he did in the first fundraising quarter. I have nothing but respect and admiration for the work he put into that.”

Even though the Democrat candidates’ fundraising amounts may seem impressive, it paled in comparison to the money that Wagner raised. According to the FEC, Wagner has generated $1.8 million thus far with $3.3 million cash on hand.

Dunaway said that she hopes that the Democrats take the 2nd District but believed their best candidate wasn’t in the race any longer.

“I do believe, sorry for how this sounds, but I do believe that the best candidate to take on Ann Wagner is no longer in the race.”

The former candidate also took a shot directly at Haas and VanOstran, both of which graduated from ivy league schools.

“I want to help position women to take 50 percent of the seats in Congress, 50 percent of everything: board rooms, executive suites, all the areas of power,” Dunaway said. “The last thing America needs right now are more privileged, Harvard-educated men.”

When asked what her political future holds, Dunaway said she wasn’t sure if she will run again but suggested that advocacy work would be something she would be interested in.

“It may be that I’m better suited for advocacy type role,” she said. “I kind of have a loud mouth and I turn people off from it. However I invest my spare time in making the world a better place, I know that my number one objective is to empower women and to help women ascend to our highest potential.”

Cort VanOstran was not available at press time.

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