Beer Heiress Wins Missouri Democratic U.S. Senate Nomination

Trudy Busch Valentine, a moderate, will face a tough general election in November.
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Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Trudy Busch Valentine speaks with supporters at the St. Louis' Kingside Diner on Monday. Busch Valentine was facing Lucas Kunce, a Marine veteran, in the primary.
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Trudy Busch Valentine speaks with supporters at the St. Louis' Kingside Diner on Monday. Busch Valentine was facing Lucas Kunce, a Marine veteran, in the primary.
Michael M. Santiago via Getty Images

Trudy Busch Valentine, a former nurse who is the heiress to the Anheuser-Busch fortune, won Missouri’s Democratic U.S. Senate primary on Tuesday night.

Busch Valentine, 65, put $3 million of her own money into the contest, helping her defeat the more progressive Lucas Kunce, a 39-year-old Marine veteran of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars who worked at a think tank fighting corporate consolidation.

Busch Valentine, by contrast, ran as a moderate Democrat, emphasizing her desire to lower health care costs and to fight the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade.

The Associated Press called the race for Busch Valentine late Tuesday, with her earning 43.2% of the vote to Kunce’s 38.3%.

Busch Valentine will face Republican candidate Eric Schmitt and will be a heavy underdog in a state former President Donald Trump won by 15 percentage points two years ago.

Despite the seemingly low stakes of the primary, both candidates attacked the other, with Kunce drawing attention to Busch Valentine’s crowning as queen of St. Louis’ controversial Veiled Prophet Ball in 1977, a time when neither Jewish nor Black people were allowed to attend the event.

Kunce drew national attention not only for his uncompromising positions on cracking down on corporate power, but also for his willingness to use salty language, appear on conservative talk radio and media outlets, and his high-profile endorsements from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and actor and Missouri native Jon Hamm.

But Busch Valentine had more local endorsements, earning the backing of Rep. Emanuel Cleaver and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones, both of whom hold sway over Black voters, a key part of the Democratic base in the state.

The Missouri Senate seat opened up after Republican Sen. Roy Blunt announced his retirement last year.

Busch Valentine has already drawn the attention of one Republican: Trump joked about her famous family, according to a Politico report.

“She’s not the weak Bush family,” Trump said, referring to the family of presidents George H.W. and George W. Bush, with whom Trump has a running feud. “She’s the strong Busch family.”

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