Notorious prosecutor ousted in a night that saw surging turnout for Democrats
The St. Louis County prosecutor whose callous handling of the Mike Brown case in Ferguson helped spark the Black Lives Matter movement was ousted by a criminal justice reformer last night.
Here’s our rundown on that race and the rest of the exciting development last night.
A NEWLY ENERGIZED bloc of insurgent Democrats was heading into Tuesday’s primary hoping for a repeat of Bernie Sanders’s 2016 shock victory in Michigan, only this time, the vehicle for those hopes was Abdul El-Sayed. It didn’t happen, as he was beaten by Gretchen Whitmer, a former Democratic leader in the Michigan state Senate, but activists still came away from Tuesday with a slew of wins, including one deeply satisfying victory: Criminal justice reformer Wesley Bell ousted St. Louis prosecutor Bob McCulloch, notorious for his callous indifference to the prosecution of Darren Wilson, the Ferguson police officer who shot and killed Mike Brown.
In the first wave of major primaries since an upset by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez energized the grassroots wing of the party, Democrats turned out on Tuesday night in surging numbers. In Michigan, well over 100,000 more people voted in the Democratic gubernatorial primary than in the Republican contest, and in Missouri, Democratic turnout was up 85 percent since 2010.
The enthusiasm among Democrats meant that Republicans needed everything they had in an Ohio special election in a district that Donald Trump carried by more than 10 points. Republicans struggled to pull ahead by even one percentage point, despite a rally by Trump, a visit by Mike Pence, $3.5 million from Paul Ryan’s super PAC, and two Republican National Committee field offices. With provisional ballots still to be counted, the race is too close to call.
For all of the money spent, the winner, whether it’s Republican Troy Balderson or Democrat Dan O’Connor, will serve just 19 legislative days between now and the November election.
Rashida Tlaib, a progressive community organizer and former state legislator endorsed by Ocasio-Cortez, led in the race to replace John Conyers in Congress. She would be the first Muslim woman and Palestinian-American elected to Congress. With 94 percent of the votes counted, she led comfortably by more than 6,500.
In Kansas, the democratic socialist duo campaigned for Brent Welder in Kansas City and James Thompson in Wichita. A poll released on the eve of the election showed Welder holding a double-digit lead, with Sharice Davids in second, Tom Niermann in third and the other candidates far behind. With a third of the votes in, the poll was bearing out, with Welder at 39, Davids at 33 and Niermann at 15 percent. A computer glitch set the rest of the vote-counting back into the early hours of Wednesday, and Davids, down by fewer than 2,000 votes, was still well within striking distance of Welder.
Thompson, meanwhile, beat his more conservative opponent, Laura Lombard, by roughly 2 to 1.
In St. Louis County, Bell’s race for prosecutor was part of a national movement to bring about criminal justice reform by winning district attorney races. Bell, with the support of the Working Families Party, the Real Justice PAC (which is affiliated with Intercept columnist Shaun King), and a slew of local and national groups, knocked off McCulloch, who had been in office more than 20 years.
Elsewhere in St. Louis, Ocasio-Cortez campaigned hard for Cori Bush, a pastor, single mom, and nurse who challenged Lacy Clay, Jr. The 1st Congressional District was previously represented by Clay’s father, and all together, the family has represented the district for more than 50 years. The race was a test of whether Clay had let his turnout operation atrophy over the years, or whether he was still able to turn out votes in a primary. The race was closely watched by skittish House Democrats who worry about their own coming primary challenges. Incumbents were pleased to see Bush dispatched by Clay 57 to 36 percent.
The progressive organizing still paid dividends. It’s likely the organizing Bush and Ocasio-Cortez did contributed heavily to Bell’s win, and helped defeat and anti-union measure. The GOP gambled that moving a ballot referendum on right-to-work laws from November to August would lower turnout and give them the victory. The referendum would prohibit agreements that require employees in a unionized workplace to contribute to the costs of union operations. It was an attempt to sock it to already reeling unions, who just took a huge loss in Janus v. AFSCME, a Supreme Court decision that serves as a kind of a right-to-work for public-sector unions. Moving up the vote was one of the final acts of disgraced former Gov. Eric Greitens. But Proposition A proved wildly unsuccessful. It was called around 10 p.m. CT, losing by 65 percent to 35 percent with two-thirds of the precincts counted.
Unions worked hard to defeat the measure, reversing a trend that saw five other states adopt right-to-work laws this decade. But those states all advanced right-to-work by statute, not the ballot. Missouri is the first state in history to defeat a right-to-work measure by public referendum.
Full story here: https://theintercept.com/2018/08/08/primary-results-kansas-michigan-missouri/