Ray Hartmann Clears Democratic Field in Race Against Ann Wagner

John Kiehne says he’s dropping out after a few days of “consideration, conversation and frustration”

Mar 21, 2024 at 12:23 pm
Riverfront Times founder and longtime journalist Ray Hartmann is taking his talents to the campaign trail.
Riverfront Times founder and longtime journalist Ray Hartmann is taking his talents to the campaign trail. THEO WELLING

Riverfront Times Founder Ray Hartmann announced his campaign for Congress last week. Yesterday, the only other Democratic candidate announced he was dropping out of the race. 

Hartmann announced his intention to retire from journalism and run against U.S. Representative Ann Wagner (R-Ballwin) on the March 14 episode of Nine PBS' Donnybrook. Hartmann was a longtime panelist on the show, a former columnist for the RFT, and author of the St. Louis Insider Substack.

On Wednesday the only other Democratic challenger, John Kiehne, announced he was quitting. 

“After a few days of consideration, conversation and frustration as a result of the unexpected announcement from media personality Ray Hartmann that he would be entering into the MO-02 race to oppose Ann Wagner, I’ll be stepping out of the race to run for Congress in Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District,” Kiehne said in a statement. “To be clear, this will be the third time in six years that I've stepped out of a Primary to make room for another Democratic candidate — and it will be the last.”

Kiehne, a musician and music producer who previously ran for the Missouri legislature, said he made the decision to leave the race because Democrats can’t afford to split resources by primarying each other. 

“We must be laser-focused on unseating Republicans — not opposing, dismissing, or attacking other Democrats,” Kiehne said. “We’ve seen what Republicans in power do — and their actions (or lack thereof) are disastrous for our communities, state and country. We’re in a fight for not just our democracy and the well-being of our citizens, but for the future of our country.”

Hartmann told the RFT last week that he believes this election is the most important of our lives .

“This is not a fire drill. It's a fire,” Hartmann said. “Women in our community and in the Second Congressional District are facing the loss of reproductive freedom — that's the biggest single issue of our time. And God forbid, if Donald Trump wins the election, we need someone who will stand up to him, not enable him."

In his statement, Kiehne said it’s past time for him to move on and encourages voters to vote blue in 2024.

“It's past time for me to reclaim my life, find some peace, find ways to effect positive change in our world, and most importantly for me personally — to get in where I fit in,” he said.

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