Protest leader ousts a longtime member of Congress; Kansas, Arizona, Washington results

Ballots are handled after the votes were counted at the Maricopa County Recorder's Office for the primary election Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Associated Press

The Associated Press

Cori Bush, a onetime homeless woman who led protests following a white police officer's fatal shooting of a Black 18-year-old in Ferguson, ousted longtime Rep. William Lacy Clay Tuesday in Missouri's Democratic primary, ending a political dynasty that has spanned more than a half-century.

Bush's victory came in a rematch of 2018, when she failed to capitalize on a national Democratic wave that favored political newcomers such as Bush's friend, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

But this time around, Bush's supporters said protests over the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis and outrage over racial injustice finally pushed her over the edge.

An emotional Bush, speaking to supporters while wearing a mask, said few people expected her to win.

"They counted us out," she said. "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's campaign spokeswoman, Keenan Korth, said voters in the district were "galvanized."

"They're ready to turn the page on decades of failed leadership," Korth said.

Bush, 44, also had backing from political action committee Justice Democrats and Fight Corporate Monopolies this election. She campaigned for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders during his presidential bid. 

Bush's primary win essentially guarantees her a seat in Congress representing the heavily Democratic St. Louis area. Missouri's 1st Congressional District has been represented by Clay or his father for a half-century. Bill Clay served 32 years before retiring in 2000. William Lacy Clay, 64, was elected that year.

Clay didn't face a serious challenger until Bush. This year, he ran on his decades-long record in Congress.

"This election is a simple choice," Clay said in a Monday statement. "Cori Bush's Empty Rhetoric, or my record of real results and real reforms for the people."

Both Clay and Bush are Black, and Black residents slightly outnumber whites in the district that includes St. Louis and north St. Louis County.

Bush became ill while pregnant with her second child in 2001 and had to quit her job at a preschool. When she and her then-husband were evicted from a rental home, the couple, their newborn and 14-month-old son lived out of a Ford Explorer for several months.

Eventually, the couple divorced. Bush earned a nursing degree. She also became a pastor.

Michael Brown's death in 2014 in Ferguson vaulted her into another role: activist. She became a leader of some of the many protests that followed the fatal police shooting of the Black, unarmed 18-year-old. She was back on the streets in 2017 after a white St. Louis officer was acquitted in the shooting death of a Black suspect. 

She continues to lead protests.

"She's being buoyed by this movement, and the movement's origin is in Ferguson," Justice Democrats spokesman Waleed Shahid said.

Jay Inslee advances through Washington primary

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee advanced Tuesday in Washington’s primary election as he seeks to become the first incumbent elected to a third term in the state in more than 40 years.

Inslee was leading decisively in early returns. He’ll face a small-town police chief in the fall. Loren Culp, who finished a distant second in the state’s “top two” primary, campaigned against Inslee’s coronavirus restrictions like mandatory masks, saying they infringed on people’s constitutional rights.

Inslee briefly ran for his party’s Democratic presidential nomination last year and has been a frequent and high-profile critic of President Donald Trump.

“At such a pivotal moment, Washington state needs the opposite of Trump-style chaos,” Inslee said in a statement.

More than 30 other people also ran in the gubernatorial primary, vying to face Inslee in November, when he’ll be a heavy favorite.

Culp is police chief of the tiny town of Republic in the northeastern part of the state. He wrote the book “American Cop: Upholding the Constitution and Defending Your Right to Bear Arms.” He got national attention after saying he wouldn’t enforce gun regulations approved by voters in a 2018 initiative.

Initiative 1639 raised the age limit to buy some weapons from 18 to 21 and requires enhanced background checks for people who buy those weapons.

Culp told The Seattle Times Tuesday night that people were tired of COVID-19 mandates from Inslee.

“They are ready for individual freedom and liberty being returned to this state, where citizens have the choice on what they want to do in their personal lives and business, and not have it dictated to them,” he said.

The 69-year-old Inslee is seeking a rare third term as governor. Governors in Washington state aren’t subject to term limits, though most haven’t served more than two terms. The last three-term governor in Washington was Republican Gov. Dan Evans, who served from 1965 until 1977.

Inslee is a former congressman and served as Democratic Governors Association chairman in 2018.

Kansas Republicans pick Rep. Roger Marshall for Senate seat

Kansas Republicans on Tuesday nominated Rep. Roger Marshall for the Senate over polarizing conservative Kris Kobach, heeding the party establishment's advice as it tries to keep a normally safe seat out of play in what could be a difficult year for the GOP.

Marshall prevailed comfortably in a crowded primary field with the backing of major farm, business and anti-abortion groups but without a pre-election endorsement from President Donald Trump sought by Senate Majority Mitch McConnell and others for the two-term congressman for western and central Kansas. Marshall overcame Kobach's reputation as a conservative firebrand and informal adviser to Trump.

Marshall will face Democratic state Sen. Barbara Bollier, a former lifelong moderate Republican who received national attention at the end of 2018 by switching parties. GOP leaders have worried for months about Bollier's ability so far to raise more in contributions than the top GOP candidates combined. 

Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state, is nationally known for advocating restrictive immigration policies and alienated independent and moderate GOP voters in losing the Kansas governor's race in 2018. Marshall and his allies made that loss a key issue as he and Kobach battled atop the GOP field.

Bob and Debbie Rosenberger said Kobach's loss in 2018 was on their minds as they cast their Republican primary ballots for Marshall at a southwest Topeka church. The retired 62-year-old postal worker and his wife, a retired, 63-year-old nursing home supervisor, said they are Trump supporters and believe Marshall will help him in the Senate.

As for Kobach, Bob Rosenberger said, "Bottom line, I just don't trust him as much as Roger Marshall."

The race for retiring four-term Republican Sen. Pat Roberts' seat had national implications even though the GOP hasn't lost a Senate contest in Kansas since 1932. Republicans are trying to keep their 53-47 Senate majority with competitive races in other states, including Arizona, Colorado and Maine.

Martha McSally wins Republican primary in Arizona

Arizona will be in the national spotlight in November as a presidential battleground and the home of one of the most closely watched Senate contests in the country. But Tuesday's primary featured few big-ticket contests. 

Republican Sen. Martha McSally comfortably defeated businessman Daniel McCarthy, who ran to her right with an anti-government message and an appeal to voters who think the response to the pandemic is infringing on individual freedoms. He was not well known and spent little money to introduce himself to voters but still garnered about 20% of the vote in early returns.

Mark Kelly, a retired astronaut and the husband of former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, secured the Democratic nomination after facing only a write-in candidate in the primary. 

The McSally-Kelly contest pits two former combat pilots against each other in the race to finish the final two years of John McCain's last term in the Senate. After McCain died in 2018, McSally was appointed to the seat and faces a tough battle to hold onto it. 

In an acceptance speech on YouTube, Kelly highlighted his effort to portray himself as an independent outsider, saying, "Washington still isn't working together to solve problems." 

In a statement, McSally looked to remind voters in a state where Republicans still outnumber Democrats that Kelly is a Democrat. A Democratic Senate majority, she said, would "usher in the most far Left policies that have become mainstream in the Democrat Party."

Among U.S. House races, none is more prominent than the 6th District covering much of north Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Fountain Hills and Scottsdale. Hiral Tipirneni defeated three other Democrats seeking the chance to take on scandal-scarred Republican Rep. David Schweikert in a heavily Republican district. Democrats hope the seat could be in play thanks to a long-running ethics investigation of Schweikert and a growing skepticism of the GOP among white voters with a college degree. 

Incumbent Democratic Rep. Tom O'Halleran in the sprawling 1st District held a lead over progressive champion Eva Putzova, while three Republicans are facing off to see who will be their party's candidate in the Democratic-leaning district. 

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio was neck-and-neck with his former chief deputy, Jerry Sheridan, as he looks to return to his old job. 

A number of state legislative districts also face ideological battles among either the Republicans or Democrats. 

At a mall in Phoenix's Biltmore neighborhood, a steady sprinkle of people entered a vacant restaurant space turned polling site. Poll workers wore masks, gloves and even face shields. For James Maynard, a 29-year-old Republican, it was the first election cycle where he opted to vote in person. He plans to do so again in November despite the pandemic.

"Like anything else it's going to be chaotic but we'll get through it," said Maynard, who was wearing a mask decorated with the American flag. "If we continue to take the necessary precautions the CDC puts out, we should be fine."

Election officials across the state have encouraged voters to request a mail ballot, and some have expanded options for early voting to reduce crowds on Election Day. 

President Donald Trump has raised concerns that mail-in voting would be susceptible to voter fraud. That is a worry that Carol Santiago, 64, agrees with. She voted in person Tuesday in Phoenix as she does for every election.

"I don't trust mail-in ballots," said Santiago, a Republican. "I personally just feel better and feel more secure no matter what election it is. I like to vote in person."

Akil Zakariya, a 29-year-old Democrat, voted in person because he didn't request a mail-in ballot in time. He plans to vote by mail in the general election to avoid crowds. He called Trump's worries "propaganda."

"He votes by mail. His press secretary votes by mail. I don't understand why it wouldn't be trusted," Zakariya said. 

A spokeswoman for the Secretary of State's office said there were no major problems reported at the polls and turnout appeared very high for a primary.

"It seems like we're getting record turnout," said Sophia Solis.

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