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Bush and Clay

Black Lives Matter activist defeats longtime St. Louis Democrat Congressman in primary

Missouri is likely to soon have its own member of the liberal “Squad” in Congress. Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist, defeated longtime incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay in Tuesday’s primary in St. Louis. She is expected to easily win the general election in the heavily Democratic district.

“It is historic that this year, of all years, we’re sending a black, working-class single mother, who has been fighting for black lives since Ferguson, all the way to the halls of Congress,” she said in her victory speech, according to NPR.

Clay, who’s also black, has represented the state’s 1st Congressional District since 2001 taking it over from his father. Clay topped Bush by 20 percentage points in the 2018 primary, but Bush’s profile has risen since then, partly because of a documentary that also profiled New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Bush endorsed in primary by leading socialists

Bush raised $562,309 for this year’s primary challenge — not too far behind the $740,525 Clay raised. Bush was endorsed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders; Justice Democrats, a group closely aligned with Ocasio-Cortez; and Jamaal Bowman, who beat longtime New York Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel earlier this summer.

Clay’s backers, including fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus, maintain he’s “no moderate Democrat,” citing, for instance, his support of “Medicare for All.”

“This is a huge upset and another groundbreaking win for our movement against a corporate-backed political dynasty,” Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, said in a statement. If elected, Bush would become the state’s first Black woman in Congress.

Bush’s win closes an era for the Clay family. Clay’s father, William, held the seat from 1969 to 2001. Lacy Clay took over in 2001 and has had it ever since. He is the senior Democrat in Missouri’s Congressional delegation. Bush will take on Republican Anthony Rogers and Libertarian Alex Furman in November’s general election.

–Dwight Widaman | Metro Voice