Clay Fends Off Democratic Primary Challenge in Missouri

Nurse and activist Cori Bush gained late attention from progressives

Missouri Democratic Rep. William Lacy Clay fended off a primary challenge on Tuesday. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Missouri Rep. William Lacy Clay beat back a Democratic primary challenge from his left Tuesday night, defeating nurse and activist Cori Bush in a race that highlighted the divisions within the Democratic Party.

With 57 percent of precincts reporting, Clay led Bush 58 percent to 35 percent when The Associated Press called the race.

Bush’s loss could be a blow to those in party’s progressive wing who are backing challengers to sitting Democrats. But progressive leaders cautioned recently that their movement does not hinge on individual races.

Bush had the backing of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who unseated House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joseph Crowley in a New York City primary in June. Ocasio-Cortez has backed other challengers to incumbent Democrats, whose primaries are still ahead

Clay had expressed confidence heading into the primary that, unlike Crowley, he could turn his voters out in the primary. He outspent Bush by nearly five times in the pre-primary reporting period between July 1 and July 18, spending $106,000 to her $22,000.

The 1st District includes the city and county of St. Louis, and Clay is heavily favored in November. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Solid Democratic.

Elsewhere in Missouri, attorney Cort Van Ostran won the Democratic primary in the neighboring 2nd District to take on GOP Rep. Ann Wagner in November. The 2nd is the only one of the Show-Me State’s six GOP-held seats that Democrats are targeting this cycle. Inside Elections rates the race Solid Republican.ICYMI: Win or Lose in the Midterms, Top Democratic Leaders Could Shuffle in House

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