Protest leader ends 52-year po­lit­i­cal dy­nasty in Mo. race

Cori Bush is an ac­tivist against po­lice bru­tal­ity

USA TODAY US Edition - - FRONT PAGE - Wil­liam Cum­mings

A protest leader and ac­tivist who once spent months liv­ing out of her car after be­ing evicted from her home, won a stun­ning up­set in Mis­souri’s Demo­cratic pri­mary Tues­day in the race for a House seat that has been held by the in­cum­bent’s fam­ily since the Nixon ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Cori Bush de­feated Rep. Wil­liam Lacy Clay Jr. by about 3 per­cent­age points to be­come the Demo­cratic can­di­date for Mis­souri’s 1st Con­gres­sional District. Clay has held the seat since 2001 after suc­ceed­ing his fa­ther, for­mer Rep. Wil­liam Lacy Clay Sr., who was elected in 1968.

A nurse, pas­tor and sin­gle-mother, Bush, 44, be­came a promi­nent voice in the protests that fol­lowed the fa­tal po­lice shoot­ing of Michael Brown, an un­armed Black 18-year-old, in Fer­gu­son, Mis­souri, in 2014. She con­tin­ued to be a pow­er­ful voice against po­lice bru­tal­ity and racial dis­crim­i­na­tion, is­sues that

ex­ploded back to the fore­front of the Amer­i­can con­scious­ness with the death of Ge­orge Floyd at the hands of Min­neapo­lis po­lice in an in­ci­dent cap­tured on a video.

“It is his­toric that this year, of all years, we’re send­ing a Black, work­ing­class, sin­gle-mother, who has been fight­ing for Black lives since Fer­gu­son all the way to the halls of Con­gress,” Bush said Tues­day after her win. A sur­vivor of COVID-19, Bush and her sup­port­ers wore masks as she de­liv­ered her re­marks.

“They counted us out,” she said. “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 strongly sup­ports the move­ment to “de­fund the po­lice” and said she will pas­sion­ately ad­vo­cate for that pol­icy if she is elected to the House. On CNN Wed­nes­day, she vowed to ap­ply “the same en­ergy that I put in on the streets of Fer­gu­son for more than 400 days while we were out there” and “the same en­ergy that I had fight­ing on the streets for jus­tice for Ge­orge Floyd and Bre­onna Tay­lor” to “make sure that de­fund is first un­der­stood, and that we bring that home to our com­mu­nity, be­cause our chil­dren’s lives de­pend on that.”

Bush is a pro­gres­sive whose pol­i­tics make her a likely ally for Democrats such as Rep. Alexan­dria Oca­sio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Bernie San­ders, I-Vt.

“She is a true pro­gres­sive who stands with work­ing peo­ple and will take on the cor­po­rate elites of this coun­try when she gets to Con­gress,” San­ders, who en­dorsed Bush in Jan­uary, said in a tweet con­grat­u­lat­ing her on her vic­tory.

Bush cam­paigned for San­ders in the Demo­cratic pri­mary, but she said she will be work­ing to help for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den de­feat Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump in Novem­ber, de­spite Bi­den’s op­po­si­tion to de­fund­ing the po­lice.

“We can’t con­tinue with Don­ald Trump,” she told CNN. “We can­not live under a Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion. So, we can dis­agree on an is­sue, but that won’t

stop me from fight­ing to have a Demo­crat in that seat.”

Bush lost a pri­mary bid against Clay in 2018. Oca­sio-Cortez strongly backed her that year, but did not en­dorse her this time against Clay, who an­nounced his sup­port for the first-term con­gress­woman’s Green New Deal in a state­ment that in­cluded a photo of him­self stand­ing closely be­side her.

Clay ran on his decades­long 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 is al­most cer­tain to win the gen­eral elec­tion against the Repub­li­can pri­mary win­ner, ac­tor and co­me­dian An­thony Rogers. A Repub­li­can has not held the seat since 1949 and the Cook Po­lit­i­cal Report ranks it one of the most Demo­cratic dis­tricts.

Other take­aways, so far, from the pri­maries Tues­day in Michi­gan, Ari­zona, Kansas and Wash­ing­ton:

In Kansas, Rep. Roger Mar­shall won the GOP pri­mary to re­place re­tir­ing Sen. Pat Roberts. His main com­peti­tor was for­mer Kansas Sec­re­tary of State Kris Kobach, whose cam­paign got a $5 mil­lion spend­ing boost from a su­per PAC with links to Democrats. Mar­shall’s vic­tory is also a win for Repub­li­cans who feared that if Kobach won the pri­mary, it could leave room for the Democrats’ can­di­date to win in Novem­ber. Demo­crat Bar­bara Bol­lier, a state se­na­tor, won her party’s nom­i­na­tion Tues­day.

In Michi­gan, re­sults for the Demo­cratic pri­mary for the 13th Con­gres­sional District were slowly trick­ling in. In­cum­bent Rep. Rashida Tlaib is fac­ing off against Brenda Jones, the Detroit City Coun­cil pres­i­dent.

Tlaib has been con­sid­ered one of the most vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of the “Squad” for re­elec­tion.

Peter Mei­jer, a mil­i­tary vet­eran and mem­ber of the fam­ily of a re­tail chain, won the GOP pri­mary to re­place re­tir­ing Rep. Justin Amash for Michi­gan’s 3rd Con­gres­sional District. Mei­jer was viewed as a fa­vorite, but sev­eral can­di­dates ran ag­gres­sive cam­paigns against him. Mei­jer will com­pete against Demo­crat Hil­lary Scholten, an at­tor­ney who ran un­con­tested Tues­day.

MICHAEL B. THOMAS/ GETTY IMAGES

Cori Bush, right, was a promi­nent voice in the Fer­gu­son protests.

HAN­NAH GABER/USA TO­DAY

Rep. Wil­liam Lacy Clay Jr., D-Mo., right, was first elected to Con­gress in 2000 to suc­ceed his fa­ther, who held the seat for 32 years.

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