Oh fucking great. Damn Missouri, y’all ain’t got the sense God gave a goose.
In what appears to be a replay of AOC’s spectacular primary victory over Queens Democratic Boss Joe Crowley, Cori Bush, a onetime homeless woman and single mother who helped lead protests in Ferguson following the killing of Michael Brown back in 2014, has triumphed over sitting Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay, the scion of a Missouri political dynasty.
The race was a rematch between the two candidates: Bush narrowly lost to Clay during a similar primary challenge back in 2018. However, it appears the upswell of support for BLM activists in the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd helped energize the Democratic “grass roots”, who in turn helped bring Bush over the top.
Despite the COVID-19 outbreak, turnout was higher in Missouri’s first district race by 6,000 votes this time around, a factor that clearly helped Bush. Bush defeated Clay with a plurality – 49% of the vote – with all precincts reporting, according to the AP.
In her victory remarks, Bush gleefully lampooned the Democratic establishment for trying to “dismiss the protester”.
- An emotional Bush, speaking to supporters while wearing a mask, said few people expected her to win.
- “They counted us out,” she said. “They called me — I’m just the protester, I’m just the activist with no name, no title and no real money. That’s all they said that I was. But St. Louis showed up today.”
- Bush’s campaign spokeswoman, Keenan Korth, said voters in the district were “galvanized.”
- “They’re ready to turn the page on decades of failed leadership,” Korth said.
- Bush, 44, also had backing from political action committee Justice Democrats and Fight Corporate Monopolies this election. She campaigned for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during his presidential bid.
- Bush’s primary win essentially guarantees her a seat in Congress representing the heavily Democratic St. Louis area. Missouri’s 1st Congressional District has been represented by Clay or his father for a half-century. Bill Clay served 32 years before retiring in 2000.
- William Lacy Clay, 64, was elected that year.
- Clay didn’t face a serious challenger until Bush. This year, he ran on his decades-long record in Congress.
- “This election is a simple choice,” Clay said in a Monday statement. “Cori Bush’s Empty Rhetoric, or my record of real results and real reforms for the people.”
Bush emerged as a leader in the protests following a white police officer’s fatal shooting of a Black 18-year-old in Ferguson. Her defeat of Clay – which, according to the AP, “essentially guarantees victory” in a suburban St. Louis district where blacks slightly outnumber whites – could mark the end of a political dynasty in Missouri that has spanned more than half a century.
She became homeless following a spell of bad luck in the early 2000s that eventually led to the break up of her marriage.
- Bush became ill while pregnant with her second child in 2001 and had to quit her job at a preschool. When she and her then-husband were evicted from a rental home, the couple, their newborn and 14-month-old son lived out of a Ford Explorer for several months.
- Eventually, the couple divorced. Bush earned a nursing degree. She also became a pastor.
Blue-checks around the company heralded Bush’s victory as “a huge deal”.
In their excitement over Bush’s success, some appeared to jump the gun.
Clay is still the incumbent, and if she wants to officially take his chair, she will need to win in November. During the 2018 election cycle, Democratic incumbents, even members of the Congressional leadership like Joe Crowley, respectfully bowed out to opponents like AOC. Though Crowley probably knew better than to take on a candidate who had the star-making force of the media, Big Tech and Hollywood behind her.
Ironically, AOC’s campaign, and Bush’s previous race, were both covered in the hit Netflix doc “Bringing Down the House”, a film that gave AOC mainstream exposure in a way few freshman Congresswoman ever receive. Judging by the reaction to Bush’s primary victory, a similar alliance of left-wing interests (including, ironically, the corporate-owned American media) is already lining up behind her. We suspect Clay will take the Crowley route, even if he hasn’t yet made his decision (beyond conceding defeat in the primary, Clay hasn’t made a decision yet on next steps).