From Missouri to Detroit, The Squad Emerges Victorious From Tuesday’s Democratic Primaries

Rashida Tlaib wins almost two thirds of the votes in the Democratic primary in Michigan, as Black Lives Matters activist Cori Bush wins primary contest in Missouri

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Michigan Democratic U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib addresses a rally protesting against racial inequality in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. June 6, 2020.
Michigan Democratic U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib addresses a rally protesting against racial inequality in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. June 6, 2020.Credit: REBECCA COOK/ REUTERS
Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon

Rep. Rashida Tlaib secured another term in Congress on Tuesday after winning the Democratic primary in her Michigan district, one of the most Democratic leaning in America.

In addition, the group of left-wing female lawmakers known as “The Squad,” which Tlaib is a member of, will likely grow from four to five lawmakers in the next Congress, following the upset victory of a Black Lives Matters activist in a primary contest in Missouri.

Tlaib easily won her primary in Michigan’s 13th district, where she was challenged by Brenda Jones, president of the Detroit city council. Jones briefly represented the 13th district in Congress in 2018, after she won a special election to replace Congressman John Conyers, who resigned from office. Jones then competed in the 2018 primary and lost to Tlaib by a margin of less than 1,000 votes.

On Tuesday, the gap between Tlaib and Jones was much more decisive, with Tlaib winning almost two thirds of the vote. Tlaib had a strong cash advantage over Jones, and also won the endorsements of key labor unions in the Detroit area, as well as of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

The district is one of the most Democratic-leaning districts in America, meaning that after winning the primary, Tlaib has de facto won another term in Congress.

Members of “The Squad" who were first elected to Congress in the 2018 midterm elections, also includes Rep. Ilhan Omar from Minnesota, who will have her own primary challenge next week in Minnesota; and New York's Rep. Alexandria Occasio-Cortez and Ayana Pressley from Massachusetts.

The group could add a fifth member to its ranks after the November election, following the upset victory on Tuesday of Cori Bush, a Black Lives Matters activist, in the Democratic primary in Missouri’s 1st Congressional district.

Bush, who was a nurse and a pastor before entering politics, defeated Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr., who has been in Congress for almost two decades, and whose father, William Lacy Clay Sr., represented the district for 32 years before him.

Bush ended the 50-year long Clay “dynasty” in the district thanks to endorsements from Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and from Justice Democrats, a left-wing group that also supported Occasio-Cortez in her primary challenge to veteran lawmaker Joe Crowley in New York in 2018.

Cori Bush during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, a few years ago.Credit: Taylor Jewell,AP

Bush ran on a progressive platform which included criminal justice reform, a $15 minimum wage and cancelling student debt.

Similar to Tlaib's district, Missouri’s 1st District is considered heavily tilted toward the Democratic Party, and so Bush will almost be certainly elected to Congress.

Also on Tuesday, the Republican Party in Kansas improved its chances to hold on to a critical Senate seat by choosing Rep. Roger Marshall to be the party’s nominee in this year’s Senate election, instead of far-right activist Kris Kobach, whom Democrats were hoping to run against in November. Kobach was the Republican nominee for governor in 2018, and was defeated in one of the most Republican states in the country by Democrat Laura Kelly.

Kobcah, who holds extreme anti-immigrant and anti-voting rights positions, has enjoyed the support of President Donald Trump, who campaigned for him in 2018 ahead of the gubernatorial election. But his loss to Kelly in 2018 convinced enough Republican voters in the state that placing him as the nominee for the Senate seat this year was too much of a risk.

Marshall will now face off against State Senator Barbara Bollier, the Democratic nominee, in November. Bollier used to be a Republican but left the party in 2018 because of Trump, explaining that “Morally, the party is not going where my compass resides. I'm looking forward to being in a party that represents the ideals that I do, including Medicaid expansion and funding our schools."

A previous version of this article erroneously referred to comparisons made by U.S. media outlets between Cori Bush and Rep. Alexandria Occasio-Cortez

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