Activist Cori Bush Defeats 20-Year Incumbent In Missouri Democratic Primary


August 7, 2020

This is how you force forward!

Black Lives Matter activist and organizer Cori Bush defeated a 20-year incumbent in Missouri’s Democratic primary this week, Yahoo! News reports. 

Bush has been active in the political landscape of Missouri since 2014, following the death of Michael Brown. She is a minister and nurse, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, an advocate of Medicare for All and a supporter of the Green New Deal. In 2018, Bush ran for office, losing by just 20 points to her now defeated incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay. Clay has served in the House of Representatives since 2001, succeeding his father who occupied the seat since 1969. Bush’s win represents the changing of a guard and the upset of a political dynasty with Jason Rosenbaum, a St. Louis Public Radio political correspondent calling it “one of the most significant moments in the history of St. Louis politics.”


In the final stretch of the campaign, Bush spoke about why she felt her run was necessary, saying, “I fight for [progressive] values just because it’s right. I always think that ‘I am the people I serve.’ I did not coin the phrase, but I always say that because I have lived low-wage. I’ve been unhoused, living out of a car with two children. I have lived uninsured … I’m a victim of violent crime. I’m a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence. So I’ve been through so many things that have happened here in this community that haven’t really been addressed by our congressperson even though he’s been in that seat for 20 years.”

During her 2018 and 2020 run, Bush was endorsed by Justice Democrats, a progressive political organization that also supported Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Ayanna Pressley in their victorious campaigns for office. She also received an endorsement from Senator Bernie Sanders who she thanked during her acceptance speech. Bush is one of several under the Justice Democrat umbrella to knock out a former incumbent in the 2020 cycle; Marie Newman winning in Chicago, Jamaal Bowman in New York and Rashida Tlaib winning her primary again in Michigan. If Bush holds the victory as expected, she will become the first Black woman to represent Missouri in Congress. 

“They counted us out. They called me 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. It is historic that this year, of all the years, we are sending a Black, working-class, single mother, who’s been fighting for Black lives since Ferguson, all the way to the halls of Congress,” Bush said in a speech after her win was announced. 


Congratulations Cori! Take it all the way!

Photo Courtesy of Cori Bush for Congress

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