Protest leader Cori Bush ousts 20-year US Rep. Clay in Missouri primary

Missouri
This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

ST. LOUIS – Cori Bush, a one-time homeless woman who led protests following a white police officer’s fatal shooting of a Black 18-year-old in Ferguson, ousted longtime Rep. William Lacy Clay Tuesday in Missouri’s Democratic primary, ending a political dynasty that has spanned more than a half-century.

Bush’s victory came in a rematch of 2018 when she failed to capitalize on a national Democratic wave that favored political newcomers such as Bush’s friend, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

But this time around, Bush’s supporters said protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis and outrage over racial injustice finally pushed her over the edge.

Bush received 49 percent of the vote while Clay got 46 percent.

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.”

“Who would have thought someone from this neighborhood, who had regular working-class parents, never had sites on politics, would win and take his seat?”

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, which would make her the state’s first Black congresswoman.

She’ll face Republican Anthony Rogers and Libertarian Alex Furman in the November election. Rogers won the Republican primary with 62 percent of the vote. 

“When you drive down certain streets in St. Louis City, some parts look like a bomb has hit it,” Bush said. “Our children have to walk past that going to school. We have to have a better community.” 

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 Monday in a statement. “Cori Bush’s Empty Rhetoric, or my record of real results and real reforms for the people.”

Both Clay and Bush are Black, and Black residents slightly outnumber whites in the district that includes St. Louis City and north St. Louis County.

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.

Michael Brown’s death in 2014 in Ferguson vaulted her into another role: activist. She became a leader of some of the many protests that followed the fatal police shooting of the Black, unarmed 18-year-old. She was back on the streets in 2017 after a white St. Louis officer was acquitted in the shooting death of a Black suspect.

She continues to lead protests.

“She’s being buoyed by this movement, and the movement’s origin is in Ferguson,” Justice Democrats spokesman Waleed Shahid said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

About FOX 2 News

FOX 2 and KPLR 11 in St. Louis cover the news in Missouri and Illinois. There are over 68 hours of live news and local programming on-air each week. Our website and live video streams operate 24/7. Download our apps for alerts and follow us on social media for updates in your feed.

President Harry Truman said: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit.” That spirit is alive and well at Fox 2. Our teamwork is on display each and every day.

Our news slogan is: “Coverage You Can Count On.” We quite frankly are too busy to worry about who gets the credit. Our main concern is serving the viewer.

We go where the stories take us. Whether it be Washington, D.C when a Belleville man opened fire during a congressional baseball game practice or to Puerto Rico where local Ameren crews restored power after more than 5 months in the dark.

Coverage You Can Count On means “Waking up your Day” with our top-rated morning show. From 4:00 am-10:00 am we are leading the way with breaking news. But our early morning crew also knows how to have some fun! Our strong commitment to the communities we serve is highlighted with our Friday neighborhood shows.

Our investigative unit consists of three reporters. Elliott Davis focuses on government waste, Chris Hayes is our investigative reporter, and Mike Colombo is our consumer reporter. They work in unison with the news department by sharing resources and ideas.

We continue to cover breaking news aggressively and relied on our seasoned journalists to make a difference with the stories we covered. The shooting of Arnold Police Officer Ryan O’Connor is just one example of that. Jasmine Huda was the only reporter who had exclusive access to the O’Connor family during his amazing rehabilitation in Colorado.

Last, but certainly not least, FOX 2 and KPLR 11 are committed to covering local politics. We host debates among candidates and have the most extensive presidential election coverage. Our commitment to politics isn’t just during an election year. We produce two political shows that air every weekend.

Popular

Latest News

More News