ST. LOUIS — Once homeless, Cori Bush is now on the verge of reaching the U.S. House of Representatives.
The 44-year-old Black Lives Matter activist pulled off an upset in Tuesday’s Democratic primary for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District, unseating incumbent William Lacy Clay, 48.6% to 45.5%. Clay has occupied the seat since 2001, and his father, Bill, held it for the 32 years prior.
"They counted us out," Bush told her supporters during her victory speech. "They called me – I'm just the protester, I'm just the activist with no name, no title and no real money. That's all they said that I was. But St. Louis showed up today."
Bush is expected to coast to victory in November’s general election in the heavily Democratic district, which includes St. Louis. No Republican has held the seat since the 1940s.
Here are five things to know about Bush:
1. She’s a progressive:
Bush campaigned for self-described democratic socialist Bernie Sanders and received his endorsement in this race. She is also friends with fellow progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York. Bush’s campaign is focusing on universal health care, police reform, free public education and increasing the minimum-wage.
2. She also ran against Clay in 2018
Two years ago, Clay soundly defeated Bush by 20 percentage points. This time around, however, she tripled her fundraising and had more support from progressive groups. Bush also had larger name recognition after appearing in the 2019 Netflix documentary “Knock Down the House,” about her, Ocasio-Cortez and two other progressive female candidates trying to defeat Democratic House incumbents in 2018.
3. She used to be homeless
In 2001, Bush fell ill while pregnant and was forced to quit her job at a preschool. She, her then-husband and their two young children were then evicted and lived out of their vehicle for several months.
"I have lived unhoused with two babies, I've worked on the minimum wage, I've been unemployed," Bush said Tuesday night. "When I talk about canceling student debt and making state colleges and trade schools free, it would take the burden off us."
4. She later became a nurse
Bush became a registered nurse after attending Lutheran School of Nursing in St. Louis from 2005-08. According to her LinkedIn page, she is currently a nursing supervisor at Amanda Luckett Murphy Hopewell Center. Bush is also an ordained minister.
5. She became an activist after Michael Brown’s death
Bush led protests following the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed, Black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014.
Her supporters believe outrage over racial injustice following the police-custody death of George Floyd in May helped propel her to victory Tuesday.
Bush continues to lead protests to this day, and doesn’t plan to stop if elected.
“It is historic that this year, of all the years, we're sending a Black, working-class, single mother, who's been fighting for Black lives since Ferguson, all the way to the halls of Congress,” she said in her victory speech.