Progressive rival defeats 10-term incumbent Democrat in Missouri congressional primary

A political dynasty that has held power in Missouri for more than five decades was interrupted by a candidate representing the new wave of progressives within the Democratic Party.

According to the Daily Wire, 10-term U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO) was defeated in that state’s primary contest on Tuesday by Cori Bush, a former nurse and pastor turned activist.  

“I respect their decision”

The stunning upset will mean Missouri’s 1st Congressional District will be represented by someone outside of Clay’s family for the first time since his father, William Lacy Clay Sr., was elected in 1969.

Clay did not dispute the reported results and offered his congratulations to his rival in a Twitter post on Wednesday.

“This seat belongs to the people of Missouri’s 1st Congressional District and I respect their decision,” he wrote. “It has been my honor and privilege to represent those who supported me and all others. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to serve.”

This was Bush’s second consecutive attempt to unseat Clay, as reported by the Associated Press. She launched a bid ahead of the 2018 midterm elections but that campaign came up short.

Formerly unemployed and homeless, Bush earned a degree in nursing and has since become a pastor. Following the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of the police shooting death of Michael Brown, however, she transitioned into political activism and became interested in seeking elected office.

“We the people have the answers”

In a victory speech to her supporters on Tuesday, she said the vote made it clear that locals have “decided that an incremental approach isn’t going to work any longer” and that “we the people have the answers, and we will lead from the front lines.”

Bush went on to reference her own activism, asserting that she had been “maced and beaten by those same police officers in those same streets” but looks forward to serving “as the first Black congresswoman in the entire history of Missouri.”

In that position, she said she would continue to work toward holding “every single one of them accountable.”

While Clay rhetorically supported many of the same issues espoused by Bush’s campaign, the party has increasingly shifted away establishment politicians in favor of younger, more progressive alternatives.

He is the latest Democrat to be voted out in this continuing wave, and only time will tell how this leftward lurch by the party’s base will pay off in the long run.

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