Cori Bush cruises to victory in Missouri’s 1st Congressional District Democratic primary

By: - August 2, 2022 9:52 pm

Congresswoman Cori Bush speaks to canvassers on July 9 at Fairgrounds Park in North St. Louis, with Mayor Tishaura Jones, at left, and former state rep. Bruce Franks at right. (Photo by Rebecca Rivas/The Missouri Independent.)

U.S. Rep. Cori Bush easily won the Democratic primary in the 1st Congressional District Tuesday, trouncing state Sen. Steve Roberts by more than 30 percentage points when the race was called shortly before 10 p.m. 

In the heavily Democratic district, which includes all of the City of St. Louis and North St. Louis County, the victory virtually guarantees Bush will serve a second term in Congress. 

“They don’t like,” Bush told supporters Tuesday night, “that instead of being what they consider to be dignified, I show up as the protester.”

She went on to say, “Let me say, your congresswoman loves you.”

Bush won her first term in 2020 by defeating 10-term Democratic Congressman Lacy Clay. 

Since then, the former nurse and a frontline Ferguson protestor has earned a national profile as a member of “The Squad,” a group of progressive Democratic lawmakers.

Roberts announced his plans to run against Bush for the Democratic nomination in March, saying Bush was more interested in being an activist than being a member of Congress. 

But his message was overshadowed before he ever entered the race due to the shocking death of former state lawmaker and St. Louis County official Cora Faith Walker two weeks before Roberts entered the race. 

In 2016, Walker accused Roberts of sexual assault, though the police investigation did not result in any charges. Roberts has denied the allegation and later sued Walker for defamation. She filed a countersuit. Eventually, they signed a confidential settlement that didn’t involve any money.

Roberts publicly released the confidential terms of the settlement with Walker, saying he did it because Bush’s supporters were resurfacing the allegations. As part of the settlement, Walker was not allowed to refer to herself as a victim of sexual assault. If she violated the terms, Roberts was allowed to release a statement in her name stating that her sexual encounter with Roberts may have been consensual.

 A second woman also publicly accused Roberts of sexual assault — St. Louis attorney Amy Harms.

Bush supporters hammered Roberts over the allegations. And the congresswoman waved off Roberts’ criticism of her record, saying she has gotten results for her district. 

Specifically, she and her supporters point to her efforts to extend federal protections against evictions. She camped out on the Capitol steps in protest of Congress, and many credit her protest with mounting the pressure necessary to get the Biden administration to take action. 

“We know that was why President Biden extended the eviction moratorium,” said St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, one of Bush’s most outspoken supporters. “I don’t care what anybody else says. Her activism saves lives, and that’s the kind of activism that we need in Congress.”

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Jason Hancock
Jason Hancock

Jason Hancock has spent two decades covering politics and policy for news organizations across the Midwest, with most of that time focused on the Missouri statehouse as a reporter for The Kansas City Star. A three-time National Headliner Award winner, he helped launch The Missouri Independent in October 2020.