Voters dump a white supremacist and make a Black woman mayor
Ella Jones, a Ferguson, Mo., city councilwoman, in 2017. She was elected mayor on Tuesday night | David Carson / St. Louis Post-Dispatch via AP

In the midst of the worst multi-layered crisis in U.S. history, the nation has cause to celebrate today after voters in two states delivered a powerful double victory to the forces of progress.

In Iowa, as Republican primary voters were dumping Rep. Steve King, one of the country’s most notorious white supremacists, people in Ferguson, Missouri, elected Ella Jones to be the city’s first-ever African-American and woman mayor.

The two results come as welcome news to the country as the national uprising for racial justice continues today from coast to coast.

The victory of Jones in Ferguson came six years after that city erupted in protests when a white police officer shot and killed Michael Brown, a Black teenager. Jones, 65, pledged to continue changes introduced after the shooting of Brown in 2014, including a federal consent decree, a law requiring sweeping reforms to Ferguson’s police department.

In her victory speech on the same night that the most outspoken white supremacist in the Congress went down to defeat, Jones stressed that she was in full support of the nationwide uprising against police violence even as she condemned violence perpetrated by small groups attempting to derail the focus of the national movement.

“I’ve got work to do,” Jones said last night after it was clear she had won, “because when you’re an African-American woman, they require more of you than they require of my counterpart.

“I know the people in Ferguson are ready to stabilize their community, and we’re going to work together to get it done.”

King was notorious for having said, “there is nothing controversial about white supremacy.”

His loss in the election last night is seen as a backlash by many white voters against that kind of racist talk, particularly since it came in the midst of the multi-racial national resistance to police violence and white supremacy.

Almost the entire Republican electorate that rejected him last night is white.

Iowa Rep. Steve King (R) at work in his office, with Confederate flags and other right-wing memorabilia surrounding him. | YouTube

The vote was seen as important, too, because King had been re-elected nine times before his defeat last night.

In the five-way primary, he was bested by Randy Feenstra, a state senator, who had the backing of mainstream state and national Republicans who had been forced to see King as an embarrassment and a potential threat to their “safe” Republican seat in November.

King regularly attacked immigrants, despite the fact that they are key to the economies in major cities in his district.

Shortly before the primary vote in Iowa last night, the head of the Republican House campaign, Rep. Steve Stivers of Ohio, condemned King for his previous support for Toronto mayoral candidate Faith Goldy, who has supported white nationalism, and King’s backing of the “Great Replacement” far-right conspiracy theory. King has also come out publicly in support of anti-Muslim organizations and political parties in European countries.

Outside the norm for GOP leaders, Stivers said, when he was criticizing King, “We must stand up against white supremacy and hate in all forms, and I strongly condemn this behavior.” However, it also seems to be the case that those leaders were afraid King would expose the fact that almost the entire Republican Party is actually pursuing a racist economic and political agenda.

After losing last night, King essentially confirmed as much, saying on Facebook his opponents had never challenged any of his racist statements when he made them. He contended that he lost the election because there was a plot in Congress against the “full-spectrum constitutional Christian conservatism” he advocates.

As King was going down to defeat yesterday in one state and Jones was piling up votes for a victory in another, peaceful protests across the nation following the killing of George Floyd grew to their largest numbers since his murder by a Minneapolis cop eight days earlier. The officer, Derek Chauvin, has now been charged with third-degree murder, and there are growing demands for murder charges against the three other officers who participated with him in the killing.

Also significant for the people backing the national uprising was the announcement yesterday that the state of Minnesota has launched an investigation into the long-running racist practices of the entire Minneapolis police department.

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CONTRIBUTOR

John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.

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