Black Lives Matter activist Cori Bush defeated longtime Rep. Willam Lacy Clay in Missouri’s Democratic primary Tuesday, chalking up another win for the far-left insurgency.
Ms. Bush, who was once homeless, is poised to join other far-left upstarts such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in reshaping the party.
“They counted us out,” she said in an emotional speech. “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.”
Ms. Bush is all but assured the House seat representing the heavily Democratic St. Louis district after toppling Mr. Clay, who held the seat for 20 years following his father’s 32-year reign in the district.
She bested Mr. Clay 48% to 45%, according to unofficial results. It was her second run at Mr. Clay, 64, after coming up short in a 2018 primary challenge.
This time, her run benefited from the momentum of the racial justice protests in St. Louis and across the country.
The advantage in the district, where slightly more voters are Black than White, came not because she is Black but because she is an activist, according to her campaign.
Both Ms. Bush and Mr. Clay are Black.
Ms. 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,” Ms. Korth said.
Ms. Bush, 44, also had backing from political action committee Justice Democrats and Fight Corporate Monopolies this election. She campaigned for Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders during his presidential bid.
Ms. 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. Ms. 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.
• The article is based in part on wire service reports.
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