Missouri’s first congressional district– the entire city of St. Louis and the mostly black northern suburbs– Ferguson, Florissant, Black Jack, Spanish Lake– is the 385th poorest congressional district of 435 nationally and the poorest in the state. It borders the second congressional district which is one of the richest in the country.
MO-01 is a minority majority district (42.9% white) and MO-02 is 88.1% white. The district lines have been carefully drawn to pack as many likely Democratic voters into a single district and keep the second CD as Republican as possible. MO-01 has a PVI of D+28 and next door the PVI is R+8. MO-01 is poorly represented by William “Lacy” Clay (D), who provides a clear reminder of why progressive voters need to organize around fresh, new voices who will upend Capitol Hill, stiff-arm corporate interests, and take back the Democratic Party from the corporate special interests. A ten-term incumbent, he long ago sold out to big banks, payday lenders and other financial parasites that depend on Washington to look the other way while they continue preying on poor and underrepresented communities.
Despite representing a district with high concentrations of poverty– half of the public school students receive free and reduced lunch– Clay has used his position in Washington to carry water for industries like rent-to-own stores, which target minorities and charge usurious interest rates for basic household appliances, such as refrigerators, ovens and washing machines. Clay actually told a room full of rent-to-own operators assembled at an industry convention, “I’ll always do my best to protect what really matters to you.”
In the words of respected investigative journalists Zach Carter and Ryan Grim, Clay is one of a handful of Congressional Black Caucus members who have “pushed for a host of seemingly arcane measures that would undermine Dodd-Frank’s rules on financial derivatives, the complex contracts at the heart of the 2008 meltdown.”
Don’t expect to see the DCCC or EMILY’s List endorse Cori Bush. She’s way too real and way too progressive for them. Expect instead to see groups like Matriarch.org and Justice Democrats. And, as of today, Blue America has endorsed her campaign. Cori intends to finish what she began last cycle, when she took on Clay. Progressive icon Ro Khanna endorsed her last cycle and it’s worth listening to what he had to say about her:
I asked Cori to introduce herself to DWT readers and Blue America members. Please read what she had to say about her campaign and consider contributing by clicking on the 2020 Blue America congressional thermometer below.
St Louis Needs Real Representation
-by Cori Bush
What comes to mind when you think of St. Louis? Maybe you’ve seen headlines declaring that our crime rates make us the “most dangerous city” in America. Perhaps you watched protests ignite in Ferguson and spread around the world after 18 year-old Michael Brown Jr. was killed. You might know us for our Arch, a landmark intended to signal success and prosperity for those who settled St. Louis.
For me, I think of all the mothers I’ve held in my arms, too many to count, as we grieve for the children they lost to gun violence. I think of soul food cooked in small, unassuming neighborhood joints that are better than any Michelin star restaurant you could find. I think about my years as a nurse, caring for the most vulnerable people in our communities, who are suffering from preventable ailments. I think of our history here as a city of protest, of resistance, of resilience; and the legacy we continued every day that we took to the streets in Ferguson.
The people of St. Louis are fighters. I, too, am a fighter.
But for too long, we’ve been fighting and getting nowhere fast because the one person we’ve entrusted with our welfare refuses to take action. Here in Missouri-01, Lacy Clay & his father before him have together held our seat in Congress for over half a century. Rep. Clay assures us that everything is fine, while people in my community are forced to make decisions every day that can mean the difference between making ends meet and living in poverty, hunger, or unhoused on our streets.
I started my campaign for Congress as a mother, nurse, activist, and proud St. Louisan, and that’s exactly how I will lead in Congress. The people of St. Louis need a Congress-person and deserve a representative, not a career politician. Because I’ve faced homelessness and being uninsured; because I am a strong single mother who worked for years as a low-wage worker; because I’ve survived violence; because I come from a proud military family; I could never forget who I was and how I lived, before taking office.
Voters across America know that we are facing a turning point in the battle for the soul of our nation. We have nothing to lose, and everything at stake, and that is why we must be vocal, authentic, and unapologetic in our leadership. For St. Louis, and for America, it’s the only way.
Here’s how I will show up and show out for my constituents in 2020:
• Leading and campaigning with integrity
◦ Using campaign funds to campaign–not for any other purpose
◦ NO corporate money, ever. Our campaign is 100% people-powered, which means I don’t and won’t respond to corporate pressure
◦ Commitment to a living wage for our canvassing team
• In Congress, I will be present & meaningfully involved in my constituency
◦ At least one town hall with constituents every quarter
◦ A listening tour around Missouri-01 within my first 100 days of office
◦ Accessible campaign offices around the district, well-staffed to ensure folks’ concerns are communicated to our D.C. office
◦ Satellite offices will double as community centers, with a #CoriCares session open to the public once a month
◦ Have a physical presence in schools, prisons, and on district streets to be a resource to community members
◦ Attending neighborhood meetings & community events when possible and staying up-to-date on local organizations’ progress
◦ Shelter visits, group home visits, and host pop-up shelters for neighborhoods in need
◦ Strong relationships with local political leaders
◦ Commitment to joining local protests to stand with communities under attack
◦ Ensure engagement with our many diverse communities across MO-1, so no one is left out or left behind
• I will be a Congresswoman for the community
◦ I will publicize the issues we face here in St. Louis in national press outlets, so that our stories don’t go untold and unheard any longer
◦ We will form reasonable relationships with well-funded local business to finance job training and career days in our local schools
◦ We will support job training with placement guarantees, including programs specifically focused on employing our formerly incarcerated residents
◦ We will find creative ways to support our unhoused population while advocating for federal funding for homelessness here and across the US
◦ We will host skill sessions for the real world, including financial literacy
◦ We will work to raise awareness surrounding the effects of trauma from sexual assault and domestic violence
◦ We will proactively advocate for environmental justice, reproductive health, more educational funding, and humane prison & criminal justice reform
◦ We will host community events that highlight the district’s diversity so that we can be invested in each other’s concerns, offer political education, and connect constituents to resources
I see it as my moral obligation to run for Congress and fight for a better future we all need. But, it is also a serious responsibility with real-life impacts. We deserve better than a representative who can’t be pinned down. There should be no room for doubt– we must know where our leaders stand. The plan I’ve laid out above is just a taste of what we can build together, and I hope to see you join us.