Cori Bush wins as Missouri voters choose Anheuser-Busch heir
Rep. Cori Bush sailed into a comfortable re-election Tuesday night, sending the message that Democrats in St. Louis are happy with their maverick representative. His win marks a victory for progressive incumbents in an election year that has seen them beleaguered by outside spending and with little support – if not outright opposition – from the party establishment. But progressives faltered across the state: In the open race for retired Missouri senator Roy Blunt’s seat, populist-style Lucas Kunce lost the primary to Trudy Busch Valentine, heiress to the Missouri fortune. ‘Anheuser-Busch.
“They don’t like the fact that we don’t accept any corporate money. They don’t like me talking the way I talk because I come from this community and sound like my community. They don’t like the fact that instead of being what they call dignified, I’m presenting myself as a protester, that I’ve always been on the front line,” Bush told the crowd during his speech on Friday. election night. “But our work is not based on what they like. Our work is based on what people need.
A former nurse and activist, Bush rose to prominence locally when the Black Lives Matter movement took to the streets in 2014, after Ferguson police shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown. Since her election to Congress in 2020, Bush has pursued a divisive style of politics that has rallied activists but often put her at odds with the party leadership, becoming one of the only congressional Democrats to mean “pay back the police” and oppose the party leadership in a row on decoupling an infrastructure bill from a broader progressive agenda.
Bush pissed off St. Louis’ old guard two years ago by unseating longtime Rep. William Lacy Clay, the scion of a political family. This year, in his first primary challenge as incumbent, that old guard came to fire on Bush in the form of state senator and minority caucus whip Steven Roberts Jr.
Roberts liked to say that St. Louis voters had “buyer’s remorse” about Bush, including in remarks to Fox News In Monday. The St. Louis Democrats, who broke for Bush by a margin of more than 2 to 1, appeared to be at odds.
Himself the son of an influential St. Louis businessman and former city councilman, Roberts was the face of a campaign that relied on a pair of outside groups with frowning ties – including one tied to his campaign treasurer and business partner, and another funded by Clay and a business linked to Roberts’ father. Despite the influx of outside spending, Bush had an overall financial advantage. While she raised and spent well over a million dollars to secure her re-election, Roberts raised less than half a million, including a $135,000 loan from her.
Roberts has come under scrutiny following public accusations of sexual assault by two women. Both women reported their charges to the police, but Roberts denied both allegations, settled the lawsuits with both women, and was never charged. In the weeks before Roberts launched his congressional campaign, someone using an IP address on the grounds of the Missouri State Capitol repeatedly deleted information about the two allegations from his Wikipedia page.
If Bush is primary aimed to secure the gains progressives have made in recent election cycles, Kunce’s campaign represented an offensive progressive movement. But his efforts fell through on Tuesday night, as Busch Valentine won 43% of the vote to Kunce’s 38 with 90% of the ballots counted.
A Navy veteran and former politics buff at the American Economic Liberties Project, a DC-based monopoly advocacy organization, Kunce centered his speech on his ability to win back ground with disgruntled working-class voters that the establishment Democrat from Missouri is losing fast. By embracing calls for universal health care and foregoing corporate PAC money, he has attempted to recreate a progressive populist model that fueled the surprisingly resilient careers of Midwestern senators like Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis.
His opponent was in many ways the perfect foil. Heir to the Anheuser-Busch fortune, Busch Valentine has come under fire for her past participation in the “Veiled Prophet’s Ball,” a white supremacist ritual that had for years been contested by racial equality advocates.
Throughout the race, Busch Valentine’s knowledge of the issues and his commitment to Democratic priorities were questioned. She missed an interview with Missouri’s largest newspaper – which Kunce endorsed – and, in a widely shared videostumbled when asked what she thought of the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United, which she previously campaigned to overturn.
Although Kunce outplayed her early on, Busch Valentine relied on her personal wealth for an influx of funding as the race drew to a close, finishing with nearly $5.9 million – including $5.3 million dollars she has donated to her own campaign. Kunce raised just under $5 million.
In November, Busch Valentine will face Michigan Attorney General Eric Schmitt, who won the Republican primary on Tuesday, a race characterized by leading candidates chasing the credibility of “Make America Great Again.”
Schmitt’s victory is a repudiation of former Republican Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens, who was considered the frontrunner for the nomination in June but fell through in the final weeks of the race as his MAGA credentials appeared insufficient. to protect him from his unseemly reputation. .
As Schmitt campaigned for his defense of the former president as Missouri’s top prosecutor – citing lawsuits he supported which aimed to force the reinstatement of Trump-era immigration and climate policies — Greitens had long understood he was Donald Trump’s unspoken choice.
The former president called out the disgraced former governor – who resigned in 2018 amid various criminal investigations, including one for sexual misconduct – ‘tough and smart’ last month, and Trump’s future daughter-in-law, Kimberly Guilfoyle, served as national co-chair of Greitens’ campaign. Schmitt’s campaign, meanwhile, has enjoyed support from the Missouri Republican establishment, which has sponsored a list of GOP-backed ads highlighting Greitens’ past scandals in the final weeks of the race.
Schmitt also focused his messages more on his fierce opposition to abortion rights — which appears to have worked in a constituency celebrating the death of Roe v. Wade. His office joined an amicus brief in the case that ultimately overturned Roe’s established abortion rights. (In neighboring Kansas, which also held an election on Tuesday, voters rejected an amendment that would have allowed state lawmakers to further restrict abortion rights, which are currently protected by the Kansas Constitution.)
In a sign of Trump’s pivotal role in the Missouri GOP primary, the former president dealt a mortal blow to the candidacy of a former frontrunner, U.S. Representative Vicky Hartzler, in approve against his last month, although he did not say who his choice would be. In a bizarre move on Monday, Trump made his final endorsement in the race: “ERIC” – last name not specified.
“I trust the Great Peoples of Missouri, on this one, to make up their own minds, just like they did when they gave me landslide victories in the 2016 and 2020 elections,” Trump said. in a press release, “and so I am proud to announce that ERIC has my complete and total approval!”
Correction: August 3, 2022, 3:43 p.m.
This story previously misstated Trudy Busch Valentine’s campaign fund total and has been updated to reflect her final fundraising total.