Emanuel Cleaver

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Emanuel Cleaver
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Missouri's 5th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2005
Preceded by Karen McCarthy
51st Mayor of Kansas City
In office
Preceded by Richard Berkley
Succeeded by Kay Barnes
Personal details
Born Emanuel Cleaver II
(1944-10-26) October 26, 1944 (age 74)
Waxahachie, Texas, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Dianne Cleaver
Alma mater Prairie View A&M University
St. Paul School of Theology
Religion Methodism

Emanuel Cleaver II (born October 26, 1944) is a United Methodist pastor, American politician and a member of the United States House of Representatives. Cleaver currently represents Missouri's 5th congressional district, where he's served since 2005. He is a member of the Democratic Party, and in January 2010, Cleaver became chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Cleaver previously served on the Kansas City Council from 1979 to 1991, until he was elected Mayor of Kansas City, serving from 1991 to 1999. In 2004, Cleaver was elected to Missouri's 5th congressional district, where his district includes the southern three-fourths of Kansas City, including all of the city south of the Missouri River. It also includes most of the city's suburbs in Jackson County.

Early life, education and career

Cleaver was born in Waxahachie, Texas, the son of Marie (née McKnight) and Lucky G. Cleaver.[1] He grew up in public housing in Wichita Falls, Texas. He graduated from Prairie View A&M University where he became a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity. Cleaver then moved to Kansas City, Missouri where he founded a branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and received a Master of Divinity degree from St. Paul School of Theology.

Cleaver has been the pastor at the St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City Missouri from March 1972 until June 28, 2009.[2]

Early political career

Cleaver served as Kansas City Councilman from 1979 to 1991 and as mayor of Kansas City for two terms from 1991 until 1999. He is the first African American mayor of Kansas City. During the last days of his tenure as Mayor, Reverend Cleaver agreed to an international visit to London, England. On the invitation of UK NGO Operation Black Vote he assisted in campaigning for increased electoral participation in the elections for the Mayor of London and the London Assembly. His visit culminated in a keynote speech at Westminster City Hall alongside British political figures including Ken Livingstone, Simon Hughes and Lee Jasper. Cleaver is a cousin to exiled KC Black Panther leader Pete O'Neal. In 1997, Cleaver attempted unsuccessfully to obtain a pardon for O'Neal from President Clinton.[3]

U.S. House of Representatives

After the compromise Budget Control Act deal had been reached to resolve the 2011 United States debt ceiling crisis in August 2011, Cleaver wrote on Twitter calling it a "sugar-coated Satan sandwich".[4]

Committee assignments

Caucus membership


During his tenure, Cleaver has voted with the Democratic party 95.8% of the time.[5] He has been recognized as a Congressman who is "not shy about earmarks", and has brought many tax dollars back to Kansas City.[6]

Cleaver has called for ethics charges against Representatives Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters to be dropped, saying "The process has been tainted."[7]

Loan default

On April 6, 2012, the Kansas City Star reported that Bank of America had sued Cleaver Company LLC over a commercial real estate loan for a Grandview car wash. In a lawsuit filed March 30, Bank of America said Cleaver, his wife Dianne, and the company owed over $1.46 million on the loan.[8][9]

Office attack

On September 11, 2014 around 2:50 a.m. what appeared to be a Molotov cocktail was thrown through the window of Cleaver's Kansas City office. He was in Washington D.C. at the time and no staff members were present during the attack.[10]

Political campaigns

Earlier official photo of Cleaver

In late 2003, Karen McCarthy, who had represented the 5th district since 1995, announced her retirement. Despite having served in city government for 20 years, including eight years as mayor, Cleaver initially posted weak numbers in the Democratic primary and general elections. Cleaver went on to defeat former Clinton Administration official Jamie Metzl in the Democratic primary by a margin of 60-40 percent. In the general election, Republican Jeanne Patterson used her own fortune to fund her candidacy and made the race far more competitive than conventional wisdom would suggest for the district, which has long been reckoned as the second-most Democratic district in Missouri. The Democrats have held this seat for all but eight years since 1909, and without interruption since 1949. By comparison, McCarthy won 65 percent in 2002.

Cleaver has been reelected twice with some opposition. In 2010, Jacob Turk (Republican) received 45 percent of the vote, with Cleaver receiving 53 percent. In 2012, Cleaver received 60 percent of the vote, with Turk receiving 37 percent. [11]

2008 Presidential election

During the course of the Democratic Presidential Primary, Cleaver endorsed Hillary Rodham Clinton.[12] Cleaver claimed that African American superdelegates who supported Clinton were subjected to harassment, threatened with primary opponents and called “Uncle Tom.” He said they were told, “You’re not black if you’re not supporting Barack Obama. … It's ugly.”[13] On March 30, 2008, he was interviewed on The Sunday Edition on CBC Radio and said he realized he was on the losing team: "Even though I don't expect the Kansas City Chiefs to beat the Indianapolis Colts, I cheer for the Kansas City Chiefs." [14] According to BlackMissouri.com.,[15] U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr. of Illinois asked Cleaver, “If it comes down to the last day and you’re the only superdelegate? … Do you want to go down in history as the one to prevent a black from winning the White House?" “I told him I’d think about it," Cleaver explained. Cleaver said during the course of the primary he'd be shocked if Obama wasn't the next President but made it clear he still supported Clinton until she suspended her bid.

Electoral history

Kansas City Mayoral election, 1991
Party Candidate Votes %
Nonpartisan Emanuel Cleaver 50,204 53
Nonpartisan Bob Lewellen 43,989 47
Kansas City Mayoral election, 1995
Party Candidate Votes %
Nonpartisan Emanuel Cleaver 51,057 55
Nonpartisan Dan Cofran 41,024 45
Missouri's 5th congressional district election, 2004[16]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Emanuel Cleaver 161,727 55.19
Republican Jeanne Patterson 123,431 42.12
Libertarian Rick Bailie 5,827 1.99
Constitution Darin Rodenberg 2,040 0.70
Total votes 293,025 100.00
Democratic hold
Missouri's 5th congressional district election, 2006[17]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Emanuel Cleaver (inc.) 136,149 64.25
Republican Jacob Turk 68,456 32.30
Libertarian Randy Langkraehr 7,314 3.45
Total votes 211,919 100.00
Democratic hold
Missouri's 5th congressional district election, 2008[18]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Emanuel Cleaver (inc.) 197,249 64.37
Republican Jacob Turk 109,166 35.63
Total votes 306,415 100.00
Democratic hold
Missouri's 5th congressional district election, 2010[16]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Emanuel Cleaver (inc.) 102,076 53.32
Republican Jacob Turk 84,578 44.18
Libertarian Randy Langkraehr 3,077 1.61
Constitution Dave Lay 1,692 0.88
Total votes 191,423 100.00
Democratic hold
Missouri's 5th congressional district election, 2012[19]
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Emanuel Cleaver (inc.) 200,290 60.5
Republican Jacob Turk 122,149 36.9
Libertarian Randy Langkraehr 8,497 2.6
Nonpartisan Andrew Feagle 6 0.0%
Nonpartisan Andrew Thomas 0 0.0%
Total votes 330,942 100.00
Democratic hold

Personal life

Emanuel Cleaver and his wife, Dianne, have four children. They reside in Kansas City.[20]

On June 25, 2000, a road in Kansas City was renamed Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard. The new route consisted of Brush Creek Blvd., E. 47th St., and the portion of Van Brunt Blvd. south of 31st St.[21]


  1. http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~battle/reps/cleaver.htm
  2. http://www.stjamesumc.com/our-story/history/
  3. http://www.nytimes.com/1997/11/23/world/a-black-panther-s-mellow-exile-farming-in-africa.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm
  4. Kim, Seung Min (1 August 2011). "Debt-ceiling deal frustrates House liberals". Politico. Retrieved 2 August 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Voting Statistics for Emanuel Cleaver". The Political Guide. Retrieved 19 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II". Jackson County Democratic Committee. Retrieved 19 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Kraske, Steve (15 June 2012). "Cleaver wants ethics charges against Waters, Rangel dropped". The Kansas City Star. Retrieved 19 June 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. "BOA sues Cleaver, company for $1.5 million". BusinessWeek. Associated Press. April 6, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Helling, Dave; Kraske, Steve (April 6, 2012). "Taxpayers could have to cover Rep. Emanuel Cleaver's bad loan". The Kansas City Star.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "FBI Probes Vandalism as Congressman's Office". ABC News. 11 Sep 2014. Retrieved 11 Sep 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "5th District (MO) Election Results". BallotPedia.org. Retrieved 15 October 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II Endorses Clinton hillaryclinton.com, August 21, 2007
  13. Cleaver: Black superdelegates backing Clinton are being "threatened" Kansas City Star, Keith Chrostowski, February 28, 2008
  14. What Not To Say on Canadian Radio, Christopher Beam, Slate, April 1, 2008
  15. Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri Endorses Hillary blackmissouri.com, February 15, 2008
  16. 16.0 16.1 http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/electionInfo/2004/2004Stat.htm#25
  17. http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/electionInfo/2006/2006Stat.htm#25
  18. http://clerk.house.gov/member_info/electionInfo/2008/2008Stat.htm#stateMO
  19. "Nov 6, 2012 General Election". Retrieved 25 April 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. "Full Biography". U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved 2012-06-19.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  21. City of Kansas City [MO] (2000-06-15). Ordinance #000771, Council of Kansas City. kcmo.org, passed 15 June 2000, effective 25 June 2000. Retrieved from http://cityclerk.kcmo.org/LiveWeb/Documents/Document.aspx?q=Kuh8rXvHZqk3AMAQH1LHksLCIicTHNYXojLZy1x/0AsdOxTi42VHlGoLabg22X7B.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Richard Berkley
Mayor of Kansas City
Succeeded by
Kay Barnes
United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Karen McCarthy
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Missouri's 5th congressional district

Preceded by
Barbara Lee
Chairperson of Congressional Black Caucus
Succeeded by
Marcia Fudge
United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Charles Boustany
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Mike Conaway