When U.S. Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-St. Louis) is called a “legacy politician” in this era of disruptive political upstarts, it’s typically meant as a slight. Though for Clay, any talk of legacy merely connects him to his father, longtime Congressman Bill Clay, and emphasizes one of his tightest personal and political bonds.
How is this for legacy: on November 6, Clay stood for reelection to his 10th term in Congress. From absentee returns on, it was clear he would win easily In the Democratic stronghold of Missouri’s 1st Congressional District. He did.
On November 5, the Clays and Missouri celebrated a major milestone: the 50th anniversary of Bill Clay’s historic election as Missouri’s first African-American member of Congress.
“I was 12 years old in 1968 when he won,” Rep. Clay told The American. “I can remember the scene vividly. We were in his headquarters on Union Boulevard. We didn’t know where this journey would take us. But 50 years later we are so appreciative that voters trust a Clay to be their voice in Washington.”
Bill Clay would go on to serve 32 years and is now retired in Maryland, writing and publishing books. Rep. Clay talked to his parents on the phone earlier this morning, which is not surprising on Election Day. His mother, Carol, also is celebrating her birthday today.
Rep. Clay shows anything but the anxiety of influence regarding his dad. He quite proudly claims the influence. “My dad is my go-to consultant,” Rep. Clay said. “He has never steered me wrong. Especially as I have matured, he has guided me and mentored me.”
Rep. Clay had no need to run an aggressive general election campaign on November 6; he faces Republican Robert Vroman, a realtor, and Libertarian Robb Cunningham, a perennial candidate who makes a living playing saxophone. But Clay did ask the public to vote for another Democratic incumbent on the ballot, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill.
"Claire McCaskill has stood with me in defense of Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and the right to vote,” Clay told The American. “Holding her seat is essential, not just for Missouri, but for our nation."
She was defeated by current Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley.
The national interest that Clay referenced involves the Republican majorities in both houses of Congress and their enabling of President Trump’s destructive policies. Clay has consistently been an outspoken critic of Trump.
“President Trump’s alternative reality was on full display tonight. He simultaneously invented fake economic facts while ignoring the deep wounds and divisions that he has inflicted on the American people,” Clay said after Trump’s State of the Union address on January 30.
“Sadly, the president continues his assault on the freedom of the press, an independent judiciary, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and our intelligence community. He continues to deepen his moral deficit that diminishes him, demeans his high office, and weakens our nation at home and abroad. That is the true state of the union.”
Rep. Clay talked to his dad on Election Day about the control of Congress switching parties. Rep. Clay said if Democrats take control of the House he looks forward to extending voter protections, and “instituting robust oversight of this administration.” Rep. Clay said it is due time for Congress to “do its constitutional duty.”