Democratic Missouri Rep. Cori Bush may be headed for a defeat in this year’s primary battle amid a federal investigation and strong criticisms of her positions on the Israel-Hamas war, a new poll suggests.
Bush, a member of the so-called “squad” of left-wing House Democrats, is trailing her main primary challenger, Prosecuting Attorney of St. Louis County Wesley Bell, by 22 points with about six months until voters in Missouri’s first congressional district go to the polls for the primary election in August, according to a new poll by MOScout and Remington, a Republican polling firm. Bush is currently under federal investigation for alleged misuse of federal security money, and she has repeatedly taken decidedly anti-Israel stances since the Hamas war commenced in October 2023.
The poll sampled 401 likely Democratic primary election voters in Bush’s district between Wednesday and Friday, with a margin of error of 4.95% and a 95% confidence level. Half of the surveyed respondents said they would vote for Bell if the election were held today, with 28% saying they would back Bush, 18% responding that they are undecided and 4% indicating that they would back Maria Chapelle Nadal, another Bush challenger.
There does not appear to be much available polling or data on the primary battle between Bush and Bell beyond the fresh MOScout and Remington survey. However, Bell has succeeded as a political challenger in the past, “shocking the Missouri political establishment” by unseating a seven-seat incumbent to become the St. Louis County prosecutor in 2018, according to the Missouri Independent.
Bell presents himself as a more moderate Democrat, and he said that he would enter the primary fight against Bush after dropping a bid to try to unseat Republican Missouri Sen. Josh Hawley in October 2023. Bell’s campaign had about $409,000 of cash-on-hand as of Feb. 1, nearly twice as much as Bush’s $216,000, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Bush has denied wrongdoing pursuant to her alleged misuse of federal security funds, but the federal investigation of the matter is still ongoing.
Notably, with regard to the Israel-Hamas war, 35% of respondents indicated that they are more sympathetic to the Israeli side of the conflict, while 21% said they are more sympathetic to the Palestinian side and 44% responded that they are not sure.
Bush was one of two legislators to vote against a bill on Jan. 31 that would ban members of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad who were involved in the brutal Oct. 7 attacks from immigrating to the U.S. The only other lawmaker to vote against the bill was Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who has also espoused openly anti-Israel views before and after the war started.
Bush has asserted that the Israeli military is perpetrating “ethnic cleansing” against Palestinians and has called for the U.S. to stop funding Israel. She has also described Israel as an “apartheid” state.
Representatives for Bush did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
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