Cori Bush, a nurse, pastor and prominent figure in St. Louis’s Black Lives Matter movement, defeated longtime incumbent U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay in a Democratic primary on Tuesday, tallying another victory for the party’s left.
Bush, 44, looked to politics after fighting for racial justice on the front lines of protests in Ferguson following the death of the Black teenager Michael Brown, who was shot by a White police officer in 2014.
Her victory ended a 50-year political dynasty. Clay was elected in 2000, succeeding his father, who had served for 32 years. This was Bush’s second time facing Clay, to whom she lost in 2018.
“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.
Bush would be the first Black woman to represent Missouri in Congress.
“This is a huge upset and another groundbreaking win for our movement against a corporate-backed political dynasty,” said Alexandra Rojas, executive director of Justice Democrats, the organization that fundraised for Bush and is closely aligned with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and other female, minority members of Congress known as “the Squad.”
Bush’s win is the latest example of a liberal victory over the Democratic establishment, pushing the party further left on issues such as Medicare-for-all, the Green New Deal and other racial justice policies.
“I’m just the protester — I’m just the activist with no name, no title and no real money,” Bush said. “That’s all they said that I was. But St. Louis showed up today.”
Bush was endorsed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and gained attention after the documentary “Knock Down the House,” which shadowed her 2018 bid.
“If you don’t know, now you know: The Squad is here to stay, and it’s growing,” said Rojas.