Big news out of Missouri Monday as St. Louis County Prosecutor Wesley Bell has announced that he is withdrawing from the Missouri Senate race (where he’d face off against Josh Hawley (R) if he secured the Democrat nomination) to instead mount a primary challenge to fellow Democrat Cori Bush for the 1st Congressional District.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell announced Monday he is ending his campaign for U.S. Senate, and will instead challenge U.S. Rep. Cori Bush in next year’s Democratic primary in the 1st Congressional District.
Bell made his surprise announcement at a press conference Monday at The SoulFisher Ministries, a Normandy-based nonprofit.
The contest will pit two veterans of the Ferguson unrest in 2014 — Bush, an activist who helped lead protests, and Bell, elected to the Ferguson city council in 2015 — against each other.
Bell said Monday he decided to switch races at the urging of Democrats who said “we need you in Washington, but St. Louis needs you in the House of Representatives.”
“With the world in a dangerous place, we need steady and effective leadership,” Bell said. “And we’re not getting it.”
It’s hard to argue with Bell’s observation regarding the need for steady and effective leadership — and the lack of it at present.
When Bush pulled off a surprise upset in the 2020 Democratic primary, ousting Lacy Clay from the seat he’d held since 1991 and his father, Bill, had held since 1969, the expectation was that she’d shake things up. Since taking office, Bush has made a name for herself alright, but the St. Louis member of “The Squad” has hardly covered herself in glory. See, e.g.:
Just Sunday, Bush demonstrated her desperate need for a dictionary as she accused Israel of an “ethnic cleansing” campaign. In short, she’s ripe for being primaried by a saner, more competent contender, which, despite his progressive leanings, Bell unquestionably is.
Moreover, Bush has taken heavy criticism for her stance on the Israel-Hamas conflict, something for which Bell provides a welcome contrast.
This time around, Bush would have to face not only local criticism for what some label as being anti-Israel, as opposed to pro-Palestine.
The powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee — a well-funded lobbying group known for directing funds against candidates it deems unfriendly to Israeli interests — has publicly lambasted Bush for her recent stances in regards to Israel.
Bush’s district includes several municipalities with a substantial Jewish population, including University City, Creve Coeur, Olivette and part of Clayton.
Bell on Monday was sharply critical of Bush’s stance on Israel: “We can’t give aid and comfort to terrorists, and Hamas is a terrorist organization.”
None of which is to characterize Bell as a moderate. But given that the First District votes overwhelmingly Democrat (Bush beat her Republican challenger in 2022 by almost 50 points and nearly 60 points in 2020), Bell is likely to be seen as a viable alternative to Bush.