Ferguson Councilman Wesley Bell Unseats St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch
Ferguson City Councilman Wesley Bell has claimed victory over seven-term incumbent Bob McCulloch in the Democratic primary for St. Louis County prosecutor. Since no Republicans ran in the primary, Bell is the effectively the winner in the November general election.
Bell told a large crowd of supporters Tuesday that it's time to end divisiveness and time to start bringing people together.
Some claim Bell's win was a referendum on the investigation of the shooting death of 18-year-old Michael Brown. A St. Louis grand jury decided not to indict the Ferguson police officer who shot Brown, triggering a firestorm of protests and riots around Ferguson in the months that followed.
The case also brought national media and political attention to the area, helping bring the Black Lives Matter movement to the forefront. Several people involved in those protests, including Bell, have used the movement to run for political office.
Bruce Franks, Jr. successfully unseated a member of a longtime St. Louis political powerhouse family to become a Missouri State Representative.
Cori Bush, another member of the protest movement surrounding Ferguson mounted an unsuccessful bid to unseat an even bigger St. Louis Democratic powerhouse, Lacy Clay in Tuesday's primary despite backing from Franks and her friend Alexandria Cortez-Ocasio, a Democratic Socialist who became an instant star in the National Democratic Party after her surprise win in New York in June.
Bell is a 43-year-old attorney and former municipal judge and prosecutor. He was elected councilman in 2015 as protests continued to rage over Brown's death.
Many critics claimed that McCulloch, who has served as St. Louis County's chief prosecutor for nearly 30 years, skewed the Brown investigation in favor of the officer. No evidence has shown that to be the case, and several claims used to make that claim were debunked in the days and weeks following the shooting.
While McCulloch campaigned on his experience, Bell's campaign focused on legal reform, and vowed to eliminate cash bail for nonviolent offenders.
McCulloch, who was expected to easily win the election, conceded the race and says he plans to retire.