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William Lacy Clay, Cori Bush

Democratic candidates for Missouri's First District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives (from left) William Lacy Clay and Cori Bush.

The St. Louis region's congressional incumbents delivered decisive victories in Tuesday's primaries.

U.S. Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Ballwin, held onto a strong early lead in Missouri's 2nd Congressional District. Likewise, U.S. Rep. William Lacy Clay, D-St. Louis, was easily fending off a primary challenge in Missouri's 1st District. 

"No matter who wins tonight's Democrat primary, there is a stark contrast between Ann's Missouri values and record of results and their out of touch, socialist-inspired agenda," a statement from Wagner's campaign said. "Ann is looking forward to discussing these differences with voters heading into November."

Clay defeated a grass-roots campaign by Cori Bush, who was seen as an anti-establishment candidate.

"It really says that the majority of the Democratic voters in the 1st Congressional District are in line with my leadership principles and the effort that I’ve made to bring change to this community," Clay said Tuesday night.

Clay has held his seat since 2001. He claimed the post after his father, Bill Clay, retired after holding it for 32 years.

Many were looking to see if Bush could win in the Midwest while touting the same brand of politics as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a self-proclaimed Democratic socialist from New York City who toppled longtime Rep. Joe Crowley. 

Some see Ocasio-Cortez's win as a splinter in the Democratic Party, raising questions about the direction the party is headed in the future.

Clay said his win "points to the fact that all 435 congressional districts are different." 

"This is not the Bronx. There were not too many similarities to this campaign as compared to the others and compared to the one that was held in the Bronx," Clay said referring to Ocasio-Cortez's win.

However, Clay said he will reach out to the areas where Bush captured the vote and try to work with them. About 37 percent of voters cast their ballot for Bush as of 10:30 p.m. with 71 percent of the precincts reporting. 

Bush, a pastor and a nurse, was an activist during the Ferguson protests and has campaigned on issues of a single-payer health care system and raising the minimum wage.  

Bush's defeat secures Clay's powerful grip on Missouri's 1st District, an overwhelmingly Democratic district, which includes all of St. Louis and part of north St. Louis County.

Late Tuesday, it was unclear who Clay's Republican challenger will be in November. The three Republican candidates in Tuesday's primary — Camille Lombardi-Olive, of St. Louis; Robert Vroman, of St. Louis and Edward L. Van Deventer Jr. of St. Ann — were in a dead heat.

Wagner has held her seat in the largely Republican district in west St. Louis County since 2013. Her only primary opponent, Noga Sachs, got only nominal support.

Wagner has won fairly comfortably in her last two elections. But national Democrats have targeted the seat as a potential takeover. 

Five Democrats were on the ballot to challenge the winner in November. Of them, Cort VanOstran was well ahead of the field. VanOstran is a Harvard- and Washington University-educated lawyer.

Among the other Democratic contenders, Mark Osmack, an Army veteran who served two tours in Afghanistan and who has called for universal health care, was getting moderate support. Also on the ballot was William Haas, a St. Louis School Board member; political science professor John Messmer; and Robert Hazel, who supports Medicare for everyone.

Samantha Liss is a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.