"They counted us out," Cori Bush told supporters. "But St. Louis showed up today"

By Claudia Harmata
August 05, 2020 02:11 PM
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Cori Bush
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Cori Bush — a nurse, activist and pastor who was once homeless — ousted longtime Democratic incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay during Tuesday's Missouri primary.

"They counted us out," Bush, 44, told supporters following her victory, according to the Associated Press. "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."

Bush's victory in the 1st Congressional District comes after a first failed attempt in 2018. But her supporters said that the recent protests over the killing of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody and the subsequent protests over racial injustice and police brutality helped propel her forward.

Bush previously led protests over the shooting of Michael Brown Jr., a Black 18-year-old that was killed by a white police officer in Ferguson outside St. Louis.

“I was maced and beaten by those same police officers in those same streets,” she told supporters on Tuesday about the protests, per The New York Times. “Six months from now, as the first Black congresswoman in the entire history of Missouri, I will be holding every single one of them accountable.”

She added: “If you didn’t understand what happened, what was birthed right here in St. Louis, Missouri, in St. Louis County, in Ferguson, we’re about to show you.”

Bush had captured nearly 49 percent of the vote by late Tuesday evening while Clay trailed with 45.5 percent.

She, viewed by many as the unlikely progressive candidate against a longtime establishment figure, had backing from political action committee Justice Democrats and Fight Corporate Monopolies during this election.

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Cori Bush
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“Tonight, Missouri’s 1st District has decided that an incremental approach isn’t going to work any longer,” Bush said after her win, according to the Times. “We decided that we the people have the answers, and we will lead from the front lines.”

She is on track to become the first Black woman to represent the state of Missouri in Congress, should she win in November's general election. Her district includes Ferguson and is a heavily Democratic area. It has been represented by Clay or his father for more than half a century.

Clay's dad served for 32 years before retiring in 2000. That year, his son, now 64, was elected.

Clay has yet to make a statement following his loss to Bush. Ahead of Tuesday's primary, he called the election a "simple choice."

"This election is a simple choice," Clay, who is 10th term in Congress, said in a Monday statement, CBS News reported. "Cori Bush's Empty Rhetoric, or my record of real results and real reforms for the people."