Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2000, 7th term.

Born: July 27, 1956, St. Louis

Home: St. Louis

Education: U. of MD, B.S. 1983

Professional Career: Asst. doorkeeper, U.S. House of Reps, 1976-83; Paralegal, 1982-2000; Real estate agent, 1986-2000.

Ethnicity: Black/African American

Religion: Catholic

Family: divorced , 2 children

Democrat William Lacy Clay was first elected in 2000 to the seat that his father, Bill Clay, held for 32 years. In the 2012 election, he trounced fellow Democratic Rep. Russ Carnahan after redistricting threw them together in a contentious primary.

Born in St. Louis, Clay, who goes by “Lacy,” moved to the Washington, D.C., area at age 12 after his father’s election to the House in 1968. He attended public schools in suburban Silver Spring, Md., and then the University of Maryland, studying by night for seven years while he worked as a House staffer by day. He had started law classes at Howard University in 1983, when a special election for the state House drew him back to St. Louis. Party leaders appointed him the Democratic nominee. Eight years later, he was again chosen by party leaders to run in a special election for a safely Democratic state Senate seat.

Then in 1999, his father decided to retire from Congress, after helping to enact many labor and education laws he had fought for. Clay wanted to take his father’s place, but he had a serious primary contest. St. Louis Councilman Charlie Dooley raised nearly $400,000 and was an African-American with a base of support in the mostly white suburbs of St. Louis County. Dooley said that the office should not be “inherited,” and he attacked what he called Clay’s old-style tactics of political threats and bossism. The St. Louis Labor Council and Missouri AFL-CIO, long allied with Bill Clay, declined to endorse his son, but more than 30 locals endorsed him. The candidate played up his father’s name and revved up the still reliable machine. He won the primary 61%-28% over Dooley, winning St. Louis City 76%-12% and the county, where twice as many votes were cast, 49%-39%. In the general election, Clay won 75%-22%, and since then has won reelection by comparable margins.

In the House, Clay has a mostly liberal voting record; he was among those tied for most-liberal House member in 2011 in National Journal’s annual vote ratings, though by 2013 he had dropped to 95th most-liberal. He is a member of the House Democrats’ whip organization and is active in the Congressional Black Caucus.

He can openly show his partisanship, as he did in 2012 when he denounced a House Republican vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress as a “disgraceful political witch hunt.” But Clay is usually low-key and can be diplomatic in resolving differences among other lawmakers. “He’s a peacemaker,” fellow Missouri Democratic Rep. Emanuel Cleaver told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “He has just the right personality to take the temperature up, or bring it down.” Clay also can be a deal-maker. He agreed to support Nancy Pelosi over Steny Hoyer for Democratic leader in 2001 only after securing a promise of $5 million to clean up contaminants at an Army plant in his district.

Clay has worked to protect voting rights for blacks and is the main proponent of creating a national Civil Rights Trail, with markers linking important sites in the civil-rights movement, including those in St. Louis. He succeeded in pushing the Census Bureau in 2010 to stop automatically counting prison inmates—many of them urban African-Americans and Latinos—as residents of the rural, mainly white communities that host prisons. He has been a leading advocate for the rent-to-own industry, a group accused on preying on minorities but that he said “provides a vital service to millions of Americans.”

On the Financial Services Committee, Clay in 2011 became ranking Democrat on the subcommittee dealing with domestic monetary policy and technology. He lamented in 2012 that frequent absences by Chairman Ron Paul, R-Texas, as he campaigned for the GOP nomination for president left the committee accomplishing little. He continued in the position as the subcommittee's focus was changed to monetary policy and trade, and was among the Democrats speaking in favor of reauthorizing the U.S. Export-Import Bank in the face of conservative criticism in 2014.

But nothing raised Clay's profile like the riots that followed the police shooting of an unarmed black youth in Ferguson, a city in his district, in August 2014. He criticized police for a "heavy-handed" approach to peaceful demonstrations and said that law enforcement organizations needed more diversity in their ranks. He also called on the federal government to take over the investigation into the shooting, saying in a radio interview: "I have absolutely no confidence in the Ferguson police, the county prosecutor. I know we won't get a fair shake there." He also defended Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, whom he knew from their days in the state Senate. He joined the governor at a news conference and later said on Twitter that Nixon was trying to protect civil rights and public safety.

Missouri lost a seat in the 2010 reapportionment, and Republicans in control of redistricting eliminated Carnahan’s 3rd District. Carnahan decided to challenge Clay in Clay’s district, a move that some close to his operation told the Cook Political Report was retribution for Clay’s tacit support of the GOP-engineered map. The newly drawn 1st District included 70% of Clay’s old district and just 30% of Carnahan’s.

Despite the candidates’ protestations that race wouldn’t be an issue, it arose in the campaign. Clay ran a radio ad featuring two prominent black churches urging listeners to stand behind “leaders like Lacy Clay and President Obama.” Clay also told the Post-Dispatch that with Carnahan as the nominee, there would be “drop off” in black turnout in the general election. The newspaper endorsed Carnahan, saying that Clay “has coasted on the organization that his father and predecessor built but without being as deeply and continuously involved in local issues as Bill Clay was.” But Clay won the primary overwhelmingly, 63%-34%, and was easily reelected in November.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2406

(202) 226-3717

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2428
Washington, DC 20515-2501

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-2406

(202) 226-3717

RHOB- Rayburn House Office Building Room 2428
Washington, DC 20515-2501

DISTRICT OFFICE

(314) 367-1970

(314) 367-1341

111 S. 10th Street Suite 24.344
St. Louis, MO 63102-1125

DISTRICT OFFICE

(314) 367-1970

(314) 367-1341

111 S. 10th Street Suite 24.344
St. Louis, MO 63102-1125

DISTRICT OFFICE

(314) 669-9393

(314) 669-9898

6830 Gravois Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63116-1137

DISTRICT OFFICE

(314) 669-9393

(314) 669-9898

6830 Gravois Avenue
St. Louis, MO 63116-1137

DISTRICT OFFICE

(314) 383-5240

(314) 383-8020

1281 Graham Road Suite 202
Florissant, MO 63031-8029

DISTRICT OFFICE

(314) 383-5240

(314) 383-8020

1281 Graham Road Suite 202
Florissant, MO 63031-8029

Staff

Sort by: Interest Name Title

Abortion

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Aerospace

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Agriculture

Richard Pecantte
Legislative Assistant

Animal Rights

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Appropriations

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Arts

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Budget

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Campaign

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Economics

Richard Pecantte
Legislative Assistant

Education

Yvette Cravins
Chief of Staff

Energy

Yvette Cravins
Chief of Staff

Family

Yvette Cravins
Chief of Staff

Finance

Richard Pecantte
Legislative Assistant

Foreign

Yvette Cravins
Chief of Staff

Govt Ops

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Grants

Richard Pecantte
Legislative Assistant

Gun Issues

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Health

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Homeland Security

Richard Pecantte
Legislative Assistant

Housing

Richard Pecantte
Legislative Assistant

Human Rights

Richard Pecantte
Legislative Assistant

Immigration

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Intelligence

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Internet

Richard Pecantte
Legislative Assistant

Judiciary

Yvette Cravins
Chief of Staff

Labor

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Land Use

Yvette Cravins
Chief of Staff

Medicare

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Military

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Recreation

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Religion

Richard Pecantte
Legislative Assistant

Rules

Yvette Cravins
Chief of Staff

Small Business

Yvette Cravins
Chief of Staff

Social Security

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Tax

Richard Pecantte
Legislative Assistant

Technology

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Telecommunications

Yvette Cravins
Chief of Staff

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Transportation

Yvette Cravins
Chief of Staff

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Veterans

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Women

Pauline Jamry
Legislative Director

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
William Lacy Clay
Votes: 267,927
Percent: 78.67%
Robyn Hamlin
Votes: 60,832
Percent: 17.86%
2012 PRIMARY
William Lacy Clay
Votes: 57,791
Percent: 63.3%
Russ Carnahan
Votes: 30,943
Percent: 33.89%
2010 GENERAL
William Lacy Clay
Votes: 135,907
Percent: 73.55%
Robyn Hamlin
Votes: 43,649
Percent: 23.62%
2010 PRIMARY
William Lacy Clay
Votes: 37,041
Percent: 81.25%
Candice Britton
Votes: 8,546
Percent: 18.75%
2008 GENERAL
William Lacy Clay
Votes: 242,570
Percent: 86.86%
Robb Cunningham
Votes: 36,700
Percent: 13.14%
2008 PRIMARY
William Lacy Clay
Votes: 41,517
Percent: 100.0%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (74%), 2008 (87%), 2006 (73%), 2004 (75%), 2002 (70%), 2000 (75%)

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