On Tuesday night, voters in Missouri opted to end the political legacy of the Lacy Clay family, which has represented the St. Louis-area 1st District for over 50 years, by electing Cori Bush, a progressive Black woman.
Bush ran and lost against Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr., who is also Black, in 2018, riding momentum from her involvement with the Black Lives Matter movement which was ignited in Ferguson, a city in her district, after the death of Michael Brown at the hands of police. She’s now made it through the toughest part of the race — the primary — and in the deep-blue district is expected to win a spot in the next Congress.
Bush will be the first Black woman to represent Missouri in Congress in the state’s history and had significant backing from the Justice Democrats, a coalition working to elect progressives to Congress, as well as from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt.
In 2018, Bush trailed Lacy Clay by 28,000 votes and a 20-point margin, which was the closest anyone had come to overruling the decades-long dynasty of the Lacy Clay family. On Tuesday, she outpaced him by three points, or around 4,400 votes.
Bush spent her campaigns, both in 2018 and 2020, emphasizing the importance of fighting for people and pushing for radical change on issues like taxes, health care and policing.
The final weeks of the race turned into a bitter showdown between the two candidates, with Lacy Clay attacking Bush and the Justice Democrats for going after prominent Congressional Black Caucus members, calling her a “prop.”
Bush’s victory comes amid a cycle in which Democrats are again seeing a push to the left — with younger, more progressive candidates nudging powerful incumbents out of their seats, including Jamaal Bowman’s victory over long-standing Rep. Eliot Engel, a 16-term incumbent, in New York’s 16th District.
On Tuesday night, she thanked supporters at her victory party, saying “Tonight, Missouri’s 1st has decided that an incremental approach isn’t going to work any longer. We decided that we the people have the answers, and we will lead from the front lines.”
Bush is a single mother of two children and spoke openly about her struggle with paying taxes and staying on top of bills, the crux of her message being that bold, substantial change is what’s needed to help Americans.
Democrats statewide also had reason to celebrate as Missourians chose to become the 38th state (plus Washington, D.C.), to expand Medicaid, opening up the possibility of expanding eligibility for up to 217,000 low-income Missourians.
The Republican-led legislature has repeatedly voted down the measure, but voters in the state tend to vote further to the left than the legislature. In 2018, medical marijuana passed in the Show Me state through a ballot initiative.