In a monumental upset, Wesley Bell has unseated longtime St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch in Tuesday’s Democratic primary. McCulloch, trailing by 10 points with 90 percent of precincts reporting, conceded shortly before 11 p.m.
Bell, a Ferguson City Councilman, ran on a criminal-justice reform platform, which includes devoting resources for treating addiction and mental health, ending mass incarceration and focusing on serious crimes.
The ACLU of Eastern Missouri released the following statement after Bell's victory:These results demonstrate that voters care passionately about crucial civil rights issues from the unjust use of cash bail to how long people are sitting in our jails because they can’t afford to pay, to demanding their prosecuting attorney be transparent on his office’s work,” said Jeffrey A. Mittman, Executive Director of ACLU of Missouri. “We provided voters with essential information on civil liberties issues and they demanded transparency and fairness from their prosecuting attorney. We look forward to working with our members and community partners to hold St. Louis County’s next prosecuting attorney accountable for protecting the rights of the people.“People keep saying ‘you shocked the world,’" Bell said to the joyous crowd at his watch party. "No, we shocked the world. People showed up and showed out.”
McCulloch has been St. Louis County’s top prosecutor since 1991 and has rarely been challenged at the ballot box. In 2014, he ran unopposed.
He was criticized by Bell and others for how he handled the grand jury investigation into former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, who fatally shot Michael Brown in August 2014. Protests and unrest occurred right after the shooting and the decision to not indict Wilson.
Republicans did not field a candidate in Tuesday’s primary, meaning Bell is essentially assured to be the next St. Louis County Prosecutor.
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