CLAYTON, Mo. – St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell made a potentially game-changing political announcement on Monday, dropping his bid to unseat incumbent Missouri Republican Josh Hawley for his U.S. Senate seat.
Democrat U.S. Senate candidate Lucas Kunce has emerged as a heavy favorite in the August primary over Bell, with a decisive fundraising edge.
Instead, Bell declared his intention to run for the U.S. House seat of a fellow Democrat, Congresswoman Cori Bush of St. Louis.
It’s been nearly five months since Bell announced his Senate campaign. As he campaigned around the state, he said fellow Democrats made it clear that although he wanted to run for the Senate, they needed him to run against the progressive Bush.
“Even when I would be in places like Kansas City, I would hear those calls,” he said.
A growing number of Democrats take issue with Bush’s progressive stances.”
Bush notably voted against President Joe Biden’s infrastructure bill in 2021, which is expected to bring an estimated $6 billion in projects to Missouri. She defended her “no” vote by saying the bill did not offer enough spending on social services for poor and minority communities.
Most recently, the congresswoman’s refusal to support Israel after the October 7 Hamas terror attacks, has been an issue. Those attacks killed an estimated 1,400 people in Israel, including Americans. Hamas also took more than 200 hostages, including Americans.
Bush has accused Israel of ethnic cleansing with its military response, which has killed thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza thus far.
“The collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza is a war crime,” Bush said.
“I think we have to stand with our allies. Israel’s always been an ally,” Bell said, Monday. “We need folks in Washington, D.C., that are going to work together, that are going to stand together, but also be effective and build that consensus, be able to get legislation passed that benefits people right here in this district.”
‘The incumbent always has an advantage,” said Webster University Political Science Professor Gwyneth Williams, Ph.D.
However, she said Bush’s vulnerabilities and Hawley’s strength in Missouri, which seems to be solidly red (Republican), were also likely factors in Bell’s decision to switch races.
“It seems like a fairly logical choice that he made. Even if he won the Democratic nomination for the Senate race, whoever wins this is not going to beat Josh Hawley,” she said.
Both candidates rose to office in the aftermath of the unrest in Ferguson over the police killing of unarmed shoplifting suspect Mike Brown, 19, in 2014.
Bush has doubled down on calls to defund police, which Bell does not support.
Also, a recent finance report showed Bush’s campaign has only about $19,000 cash and more than $129,000 in debt
‘Wesley Bell is much more mainstream. He’s been county prosecutor,” Williams said. “He’s in a position to raise a lot of money and yet, for the civil rights community, he came out of Ferguson. He’s got his bona fides there, too.”
Bush provided the following statement to FOX 2:
It is disheartening that Prosecuting Attorney Bell has decided to abandon his U.S. Senate campaign to become Missouri’s first Black senator after less than five months and has instead decided to target Missouri’s first Black congresswoman.Rep. Cori Bush
“This is nothing personal against the congresswoman,” Bell said of his decision.
Unlike his Senate run, Bell insists he’s in the House race to stay.