Jeffries, Dem leaders endorse Cori Bush

House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries and Democratic leaders endorsed Rep. Cori Bush on Tuesday, giving the embattled incumbent a boost in next month’s Missouri primary.

“Cori has shown up for the people of St. Louis in the fight for reproductive freedom, gun violence prevention and affordable housing. We stand together to endorse Cori Bush for re-election as we collectively work hard to make life better for everyday Americans and battle the corrosive extreme MAGA Republican agenda,” said Jeffries, House Minority Whip Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Caucus Chair Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Calif.) in a joint statement.

Bush, a member of the liberal Squad, has drawn a strong primary challenge this cycle from St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Wesley Bell.

Bell has made Israel policy part of his election pitch. Bush has been an outspoken critic of Israel and a proponent of a cease-fire in the Israel-Hamas war. The limited polling available in the primary shows a close race so far.

It’s not immediately clear whether Jeffries and other Democratic leaders might travel to St. Louis to campaign for Bush before the Aug. 6 primary. Democratic leaders had also endorsed her fellow Squad member, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), and donated money to him, but had not hit the trail for him.

Bowman lost a primary challenge to moderate opponent George Latimer last month, making him the first member of the Squad ever to lose a primary and the only Democratic incumbent defeated for renomination so far this year.

Bush, in a statement, thanked leadership for the endorsement and said: “With their support, I know we’re going to win our race in August, take back the House in November, and continue to deliver for the people and St. Louis.”

Bush has also been dogged this cycle by personal controversies, including a federal investigation into her campaign spending on security services. Bush’s now-husband had worked security for her and been paid by her campaign, though she’s denied any wrongdoing and has said she would cooperate with the investigation.

Democratic leadership has generally backed all incumbents regardless of their ideological background. But liberals have fretted this cycle about the outsize influence of groups like the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which, through the super PAC United Democracy Project, has pumped millions of dollars this cycle into primary elections in an effort to oust lawmakers who have been critical of Israel and has spent or reserved $2.6 million to boost Bell and oppose Bush.