ST. LOUIS, Missouri — The field of Democrats running for a chance to unseat incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner in Congress got smaller.
Ben Samuels announced his departure from the midterm primary contest Friday morning, blaming partisan gerrymandering for his early exit.
"I was drawn out of the district in this final version of the map," Samuels told 5 On Your Side. "The district explicitly was designed to be hard or unwinnable for Democrats."
Samuels pledged to focus his efforts on restoring civility to politics and criticized partisan gerrymandering for its role in driving candidates farther to the political extremes.
"This is a district that, in 2020, was the closest district in the country at the presidential level. Trump won the district only by about 115 votes out of 750,000 people or so who live in the district.
"And now they've taken that and made it a district that Trump would have won by 8%. And it was done explicitly with the purpose of making it less competitive and less representative," he said.
Trish Gunby, a two-term state representative from Ballwin, acknowledged the "headwinds" in the newly drawn district, but said she still has a shot at pulling off an upset.
"I do not believe it's unwinnable," Gunby said. "I was told my House district was unwinnable and I flipped it and I was reelected."
Gunby said renewed interest in abortion access and gun safety measures could alter voter turnout in the fall.
"There's a lot of stuff that has happened that I believe will galvanize voters, and certainly Democrats and even moderate Republicans," she said.
Samuels said he's likely to vote for Gunby in the August 2 primary contest.
Wagner's office declined to comment on Samuels' departure from the race.