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Emanuel Cleaver II (born October 26, 1944) is a United Methodist pastor, American politician and a member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Cleaver currently represents Missouri's 5th congressional district, where he has served since 2005. The district includes the southern three-fourths of Kansas City, including all of the city south of the Missouri River, as well as the more rural counties of Lafayette, Ray, and Saline east of Jackson. Cleaver is a member of the Democratic Party, and in January 2010, he became chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, a position he held until 2019.

Emanuel Cleaver
Emanuel Cleaver official photo.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Missouri's 5th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2005
Preceded byKaren McCarthy
51st Mayor of Kansas City
In office
Preceded byRichard Berkley
Succeeded byKay Barnes
Personal details
Emanuel Cleaver II

(1944-10-26) October 26, 1944 (age 74)
Waxahachie, Texas, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Dianne Cleaver
EducationPrairie View A&M University (BS)
Saint Paul School of Theology (MDiv)

Cleaver previously served on the Kansas City Council from 1979 to 1991, until he was elected Mayor, serving from 1991 to 1999. In 2004, Cleaver was elected to represent Missouri's 5th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives.


Early life, education and careerEdit

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

Early political careerEdit

Cleaver served as Kansas City Councilman from 1979 to 1991 and as Mayor of Kansas City for two terms from 1991 until 1999. He was 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 Kansas City Black Panther leader Pete O'Neal. In 1997, Cleaver attempted unsuccessfully to obtain a pardon for O'Neal from President Bill Clinton.[3]

U.S. House of RepresentativesEdit

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 assignmentsEdit

Caucus membershipEdit


During his tenure, Cleaver has voted with the Democratic Party 95.8% of the time.[6] He has been recognized as a congressman who is "not shy about earmarks" and has brought many tax dollars back to Kansas City.[7]

Cleaver has called for ethics charges against fellow U.S. Representatives Charlie Rangel and Maxine Waters to be dropped, saying "The process has been tainted."[8]

Loan defaultEdit

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.[9][10]

Office attackEdit

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.[11]

Political campaignsEdit

Cleaver's 110th Congressional session portrait

In late 2003, Karen McCarthy, who had represented the 5th Congressional 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 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 (behind the St. Louis-based 1st Congressional District). The Democrats have held this seat for all but eight years since 1909, and without interruption since 1949. By comparison, McCarthy won 65 percent of the vote in 2002.

2008 Democratic Presidential Primary ElectionEdit

During the course of the contentious 2008 Democratic Presidential Primary, Cleaver endorsed Hillary 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,[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 HistoryEdit

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
2004 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri's 5th Congressional District
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
2006 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri's 5th Congressional District
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Emanuel Cleaver 136,149 64.25
Republican Jacob Turk 68,456 32.30
Libertarian Randy Langkraehr 7,314 3.45
2008 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri's 5th Congressional District
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Emanuel Cleaver 197,249 64.37
Republican Jacob Turk 109,166 35.63
2010 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri's 5th Congressional District
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Emanuel Cleaver 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
2012 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri's 5th Congressional District
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Emanuel Cleaver 200,290 60.52
Republican Jacob Turk 122,149 36.91
Libertarian Randy Langkraehr 8,497 2.57
Write-in Others 6 0.00
2014 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri's 5th Congressional District
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Emanuel Cleaver 79,256 51.59
Republican Jacob Turk 69,071 44.96
Libertarian Roy Welborn 5,308 3.46
2016 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri's 5th Congressional District
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Emanuel Cleaver 190,766 58.8
Republican Jacob Turk 123,771 38.2
Libertarian Roy Welborn 9,733 3

Personal lifeEdit

Emanuel Cleaver and his wife, Dianne, have four children. They reside in Kansas City.[16]

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.[17]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "emanuel cleaver". Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  2. ^ "History » St. James UMC". Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  3. ^ McKinley Jr., James C. "A Black Panther's Mellow Exile: Farming in Africa". Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  4. ^ Kim, Seung Min (August 1, 2011). "Debt-ceiling deal frustrates House liberals". Politico. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  5. ^ "Membership". Congressional Black Caucus. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  6. ^ "Voting Statistics for Emanuel Cleaver". The Political Guide. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  7. ^ "Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II". Jackson County Democratic Committee. Archived from the original on June 4, 2012. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  8. ^ Kraske, Steve (June 15, 2012). "Cleaver wants ethics charges against Waters, Rangel dropped". The Kansas City Star. Archived from the original on January 29, 2013. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  9. ^ "BOA sues Cleaver, company for $1.5 million". BusinessWeek. Associated Press. April 6, 2012. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  10. ^ Helling, Dave; Kraske, Steve (April 6, 2012). "Taxpayers could have to cover Rep. Emanuel Cleaver's bad loan". The Kansas City Star. Archived from the original on April 8, 2012.
  11. ^ "FBI Probes Vandalism as Congressman's Office". ABC News. September 11, 2014. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  12. ^ Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II Endorses Clinton Archived August 22, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, 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, February 15, 2008
  16. ^ "Full Biography". U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  17. ^ City of Kansas City [MO] (June 15, 2000). Ordinance #000771, Council of Kansas City., passed June 15, 2000, effective June 25, 2000. Retrieved from

External linksEdit