Cori Bush is a 2018 Democratic candidate seeking to represent the 1st Congressional District of Missouri in the United States House of Representatives this fall.
She will be up against William Lacy Clay, a nine-term politician whose father was one of the founders of the Congressional Black Caucus. The Missouri primary will be held on Tuesday, August 7th.
“Many say a Midwestern state like Missouri is too steeped in tradition to adopt this new brand of progressivism that looks a lot like socialism,” Clay said to the New York Times.
Brand New Congress is a political action committee formed by former staffers of Bernie Sanders who are seeking to elect hundreds of new progressive faces to Congress.
Bush’s campaign website is: https://www.votecoribush.com
Here’s what you need to know about her:
1. She Is an Ordained Pastor & Registered Nurse
Bush attended Harris-Stowe State University from 1995-1996 and then Luthern School of Nursing from 2005-2008. She currently works at Hopewell Health Center Incorporated where she helps patients with mental health problems, but before that, she taught early childhood education.
“I was an early childhood teacher for years and seeing how children couldn’t come to school because their parents didn’t have money to pay for it. I have been without health care before. It is that type of person that should be seated (in Congress) — someone who is actually from St. Louis, from the streets, who understands what is happening and is able to advocate,” Bush said to the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch.
Bush is an ordained minister and progressive community organizer. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez campaigned for her in Saint Louis back on July 21st.
“I actually feel like we have the momentum. I believe that we have what we need to be successful,” Bush said after the rally.
Ocasio-Cortez has become a close friend to Bush, who gave her a pep talk the night of the New York primary via video chat.
“I had the television on and I was looking at my phone and when I saw she won I cried. I cried like a baby for hours,” Bush said.
“It wasn’t just about her. It was about anybody that’s the underdog in their race.”
2. Bush Ran For Senate in 2016, but Was Defeated by Jason Kander in the Democratic Primary
After the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9th, 2014, Bush decided to join the 2016 United States Senate race. She was an organizer/activist with Ferguson Frontline and is still a vital part of the Ferguson Women’s Caucus.
She still organizes for Michael Brown Sr.’s Chosen for Change Foundation. Before she decided to run in the 2018 House race, Bush was organizing for a Ferguson/ St. Louis chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to promote nonviolence.
When asked if she ran to win, or just decided to run to make a statement. Her response was: “It wasn’t a symbolic run — I was running to win,” she told the New York Times.
Bush lost the primary by more than 50 points. Clay, also an African-American–and her competition this time around, has said that Missouri will not welcome the socialist ideas she has, as it is still very much “rooted in tradition.”
3. Bush, Like Ocasio-Cortez, Has Said No to Corporate & PAC Money
Bush backed Bernie Sanders during his presidential run and even spoke at some of his rallies while she was running for Senate. She championed for public health and education alongside him and stood for a campaign funded by the people in order to maintain purity of message.
“I understand what it’s like to work 40-hours a week and still live in poverty,” Bush said at a rally.
William Lacy Clay, her opponent in her upcoming race, is voting to deregulate the banks. Most of his constituents believe his actions represent the donors and not the voters.
“Bush won’t take corporate money, she won’t take PAC money because she wants to represent the people,” said Cenk Uygur, the host of The Young Turks.
Bush won a Woman of Courage Award From The Emmett Till Legacy Foundation in 2015 after helping nurse her community back to health as it grieved the death of Michael Brown. That very community is now pouring back into her to continue to see her lead.
When asked in an interview on Saint Louis Public Radio show “Saint Louis on the Air” of how she’ll accept funding, Bush replied:
I am one of those everyday people. I felt left out of the conversation for years, just not feeling like our government, like our representatives, represented me. As a single parent, as someone who struggled to make ends meet, definitely sometimes looking for how would we eat next week – so that person, being in that position, not accepting corporate PAC money, to me, says that that person that can only donate $12 to their favorite candidate still has just as much of a voice as a corporation that can donate thousands. I want to make sure that those people know that that representative actually knows them and speaks to their situations, because to me, it’s all about lived experience. I believe lived experience should be seated in Congress. And that lived experience says, “I know what that’s like. I know what it’s like to go take out a payday loan and to struggle to pay it back because the interest is so high.”
“Between April 2017 and the end of March, Bush raised more than $92,000, with every penny of it from individual contributions rather than PACs. Clay took in only about $52,000 in individual donations from January 2017 through the end of June, with the rest — more than $330,000 — coming from PACs, labor or corporations,” the Saint Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
4. She’s a Single Mother of 2 Who Was Once Living Out of Her Car
Bush has faced many challenged in her 41 years: sexual assault, joblessness, homelessness, and more.
In 2001, Bush became ill while pregnant with her second child. She had to quit her job as an early education teacher because of it. She, her husband at the time and their 14-month-old son were kicked out of the home they were renting and forced to live in their car.
Bush told the New York Times, she can remember cleaning out her baby’s bottles in McDonald’s bathroom each morning. That rough patch lead to a divorce which lead to Bush pursuing a nursing degree to take care of her and her two children.
“I am a very vocal, on-the-ground fighter, an advocate,” Bush told the Kansas City Star. “I’m someone that touches the community with her feet on the ground.”
5. Her 3 Main Talking Points Are: Medicare For All, a $15 Minimum Wage & Tuition-Free Public College
“The most important issue in 2018 remains achieving universal health care coverage for every American,” Clay told the Post-Dispatch. “Since my earliest entry into public service, I have advocated for health care as a human right, not a commodity.”
“Cori experienced the challenges of raising children on her own, living paycheck to paycheck, making just above minimum wage, taking on student loans to continue her education,” her website says.
The theme throughout her campaign has been “jobs, justice and medicare for all.”
Clay and Bush have a similar voting record. The real vote will come down to whether or not the people want a representative that is pro or anti-establishment.
Bush doesn’t profess to be a socialist like her friend Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, but her opponent disagrees.
“I am a progressive Democrat, whereas my opponent is a democratic socialist,” Clay said.
“I have a record to run on, unlike her and my other opponent, and I have results in the areas of health care, of housing, of voting rights, the environment. I can point to that. The people in the heartland in St. Louis, they know that this is not the Bronx,” Clay said.
“St. Louis is not the Bronx, but the thing is (Ocasio-Cortez) ran a race in an area where she had a lot of help from people of color … which we have that happening in our own district. Regardless, her race was people-powered, and the exact same thing is happening in our race,” said Bush.