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Messenger: It's a new day in Missouri politics. Black Women Matter.
TONY'S TAKE

Messenger: It's a new day in Missouri politics. Black Women Matter.

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Protesters march through the Delmar Loop

Protest leader Cori Bush works the bullhorn as marchers gather in The Loop for a rally and march against police brutality on Friday, June 12, 2020. Photo by Robert Cohen, rcohen@post-dispatch.com

The leading contenders to join Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden on his ticket as vice president are Black women.

There was a time where the conventional political wisdom would suggest that decision wouldn’t play well in Missouri. That’s no longer the case. Not after Tuesday.

In the Democratic primary in St. Louis, Black women won the day. Cori Bush stunned the region and the nation with an upset of U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay. Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner coasted past her Democratic opponent, winning more than 60% of the vote. Treasurer Tishaura Jones won by a similar margin. Both Jones and Gardner were fighting against the traditional power structure of Democratic politics in St. Louis, including an infusion of dark money tied to the same people who have been pushing a corrupt airport privatization scheme on the city.

Black women also played an outsized role in expanding Medicaid throughout the state, as the massive margins in St. Louis and Kansas City, along with wins in traditional GOP strongholds St. Charles and Greene County, pushed the important health care amendment to victory.

Black Women Matter.

That’s the lesson Biden learned in South Carolina in February, when a late endorsement from Rep. James Clyburn cemented him as the front-runner. Here’s what Clyburn would say later to NPR about the vice presidential pick awaiting Biden:

“I really believe that we’ve reached a point in this country where African American women need to be rewarded for the loyalty that they’ve given the party.”

That was also part of the point of a series of tweets from Black activist Kayla Reed on Tuesday night. She has risen from Ferguson protester to being one of the most important — and powerful — political minds in St. Louis.

“Cori Bush took down a political dynasty on her 2nd try. She ended a 50-year stronghold. Do you understand what that means?

“The entire Black political establishment came after Tishaura. And she put them in the ground. Do you understand what this means?

“The white status quo tried to silence Kim Gardner. They ran a white southside moderate against her with the backing of the police union and mega donors. And Kim put them in the ground? Do you understand what this means?

This is a seismic shift for the political landscape of STL.”

Reed is right. But it’s not just the city that is changing.

She and her band of activists ran a stealthy campaign to make Wesley Bell the first African American prosecuting attorney in St. Louis County history two years ago. In that election, hardly anybody saw them coming.

Now they are plowing through old political narratives like a freight train.

We comin’, they say. Expect us.

Those are the blaring messages in a Tuesday election that could have massive statewide implications in Missouri for decades. On Tuesday, Missouri Republicans decided to pick a statewide slate running for governor, lieutenant governor, treasurer, secretary of state and attorney general of five white men.

Democrats picked two white women, a black man, a black woman and a white man. It’s the most diverse statewide ticket in Missouri history, which will likely be led by the most diverse presidential ticket in history, and its path to victory doesn’t follow the old white Democratic strategy of trying not to offend rural white voters, but is depending on Black women to carry the day.

That’s the lesson of a historic primary in St. Louis that will have lasting implications in the state, Jones told me Wednesday morning:

“St. Louis voters sent a resounding message to the state and the nation that they trust Black women to lead them in high-powered legislative and executive positions.”

Do you understand what this means?

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