Local Israeli American takes on uphill battle for Ann Wagner seat

Noga Sachs, an Israeli American, is challenging U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner in the Republican primary and spoke July 13 at a meeting of the St. Charles County Pachyderm Club, a Republican group. Photo: Eric Berger

By Eric Berger, Staff Writer

Noga Sachs stands before a group of Republicans in a private room at a Golden Corral buffet restaurant in St. Charles and keeps repeating different versions of the same two words: select and elect

“Right now, the Missouri GOP is selecting the candidate that they would like to sponsor and fund before the primary,” Sachs, a 34-year-old Israeli American, said at the July 13 lunch. “The primary is intended to elect the candidate that people would like to have.”

The candidate Sachs is referring to is herself. She is challenging U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner in the Republican primary on Aug. 7. Wagner has represented the second congressional district in suburban St. Louis since 2013. Wagner also once headed the Missouri Republican Party.

The Republican Party describes Sachs, who admits that she has never voted for a Republican, as a “Trojan horse” for the Democratic party. The Missouri GOP aims to have her name removed from the ballot before the primary.

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Many of the 30 or so older adults in the room sit with their arms crossed and look skeptical during Sachs’ presentation. All members of the Republican-aligned St. Charles County Pachyderm Club remain respectful of Sachs, whose Facebook campaign page has 234 likes. Afterwards, they ask her questions. (Wagner’s Facebook page has 28,000 likes. Sachs is one part of a two-person operation who has avoided buying campaign signs because of the cost, she said. Wagner’s campaign had raised $2.4 million as of June 30, according to a Federal Election Commission filing.)

“So, do you support the president?” one diner asks.

“There are many things that I am in agreement about — like what we’re talking about here with the tariffs — but as I mentioned, his rhetoric is something we need to work on,” Sachs responds.

“That concerns me because I want someone who supports him 100 percent because I support him 100 percent…I want somebody who is not going to wake up today and say, ‘Am I going to have coffee or tea?’ It’s coffee 100 percent,” the diner explains.

Sachs, a career coach, is the daughter of Ella and Rimmon Sachs, who came to the United States from Israel in 1981 so that Rimmon could pursue a doctorate in electrical engineering. Ella is a mathematician and teaches at St. Louis University. 

Sachs is the youngest of five children and the only one born in the United States. She graduated from Ladue Horton Watkins High School and earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and statistics from Boston University and a master’s in kinesiology and exercise science from the University of Illinois. On her campaign site, it notes that she has visited more than 20 percent of the world’s countries and six of the seven continents. 

“She is something else,” her mom says and chuckles. “She is a wonderful person and very devoted to her ideas and goals.”

So what are those goals?

Sachs said during an interview at a Starbucks in Creve Coeur that she decided to run after the February shooting at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, in which 17 people were killed. She said she wants to spur “culture change.”

“Right now we allow a lot of crass language to come out, a lot of flippant language to come out,” she said. “We need to provide some training about how to communicate, where to be sensitive about communicating.”

Sachs also criticized local news organizations for not covering the primary. The Post-Dispatch did write about the Republican party’s efforts to have her removed from the ballot. 

Her campaign has also released videos that appear to show members of the Missouri GOP and Wagner’s campaign attempting to have Sachs and her volunteers removed from events. The GOP and Wagner did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

“We treat our primary system very seriously. We will not allow ‘Trojan Horse’ candidates,” Sam Cooper, the state party’s executive director, told the Post-Dispatch. “The Republican Party is a big-tent party. . . but we have ideals we adhere to.”

On the accusation that she is a Democrat, Sachs said she is not voting for anyone from the party. 

“I see myself as more of a moderate, someone who is a lot more practical than either party is really being right now,” she said.

Some of her positions coincide with parts of the Republican party. She does not support any additional restrictions on guns. 

She also supports President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the embassy from Tel Aviv. 

I definitely am stirring the pot with regards to how politics are currently structured,” she said.

Is this just an opportunity for her to spread her message about better communication or does she think she can actually win? Wagner captured 82 percent of the vote in the 2016 Republican primary and 58 percent of the vote in the general election.

But Sachs says, “I think I can definitely win.”