Lacy Clay defeated by liberal primary challenger, CNN projects
Cori Bush unseats 20-year Missouri incumbent
02:11 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matter activist who ousted 10-term incumbent Rep. William Lacy Clay in a Missouri Democratic primary, said Wednesday morning her victory was evidence of surging progressive enthusiasm across the country.

“It’s time for regular, everyday people to have a voice,” the single mother and former nurse told CNN’s John Berman Wednesday on “New Day.” “People are looking for a fighter right now, a champion, and that’s something that I’ve exhibited for years, and the community is ready for that. St. Louis said it’s time.”

The US House seat, based in St. Louis, has been held by Clay and his father, former Rep. William Clay Sr., one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus, since 1969. Bush, who challenged Clay in 2018 and lost, was the first candidate launched by Justice Democrats, the progressive group dedicated to toppling moderate Democratic congressional incumbents, and her win is the latest in a series of successful progressive primary victories against long-serving, establishment-backed Democrats.

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Although she’s a staunch supporter of the movement to “defund the police” – a platform that generally calls for reallocating money for police departments to other social services – she said it’s OK that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden hasn’t backed such measures.

“We cannot live under a Trump administration. So we can disagree on an issue, but that won’t stop me from fighting to have a Democrat in that seat,” Bush said of Biden.

Bush also cited her experience suffering from Covid-19 earlier this year – “I was actually off my feet for two months,” she told Berman – as a key reason why she supports “Medicare for All.” She said President Donald Trump’s recent comments that the coronavirus death toll “is what it is” was “absolutely reprehensible.”

“We didn’t have what we needed, and predominantly black areas, we were lacking,” Bush said of St. Louis, adding that a priority for her will be ensuring that minority communities have access to adequate resources and health care.

Bush’s stunning upset was evocative of Jamaal Bowman’s recent triumph over 16-term incumbent Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel in New York, and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory against veteran party stalwart Rep. Joe Crowley in 2018.

Asked by Berman if her victory amounted to a warning shot to her party, Bush suggested that Democrats should “do some things differently.”

“Because the old ways of doing things, let’s retire that, and let’s start making sure that these districts are taken care of and that … the goals are being met of regular, everyday people, because we’re the ones who have to walk through and live this out,” she said. “Now they’re seeing it’s not impossible anymore.”