Emanuel Cleaver II (born October 26, 1944) is a United Methodist pastor and American politician who has represented Missouri’s 5th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives since 2005.

Cleaver represents a district that primarily consists of the inner ring of the Kansas City metropolitan area, including nearly all of Kansas City and some of its suburbs in Clay and Jackson counties, including North Kansas City, Gladstone, Independence, Lee’s Summit, and some of Blue Springs. He is a member of the Democratic Party, and chaired the Congressional Black Caucus from 2011 to 2013.

In his 10th term in Congress as of 2023, Cleaver previously served three terms on the Kansas City Council from 1979 to 1991, until he was elected mayor, serving two terms from 1991 to 1999.

Early life, education, and career

Emanuel Cleaver II was born on October 26, 1944, in Waxahachie, Texas.[1] He grew up in public housing in Wichita Falls, Texas. He graduated from Prairie View A&M University, where he was a member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity, in 1972.[1][2] Cleaver then moved to Kansas City, Missouri, where he founded a branch of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference[3] and received a Master of Divinity degree from St. Paul School of Theology.[4]

Cleaver was the pastor at the St. James United Methodist Church in Kansas City, Missouri, from 1972 to 2009.[5]

Kansas City councilman and mayor

Cleaver served as a Kansas City councilman from 1979 to 1991 and as mayor of Kansas City from 1991 until 1999.[3] He was Kansas City’s first African American mayor.[6]

David Helling, an opinion columnist for the Kansas City Star, wrote of Cleaver’s tenure as mayor: “Kansas City’s first African-American mayor defined the modern concept of the job: a professional staff, high visibility and a clear agenda. He was also a moral leader. His speech at a local rally after the Rodney King verdict averted a riot and was his finest moment. Yet Cleaver’s actual record as mayor is spotty. Tax and spending initiatives floundered at the polls, and City Hall scandal was common. The crime rate was far too high.”[7]

Cleaver is a cousin of exiled Kansas City Black Panther leader Pete O’Neal. In 1997, Cleaver unsuccessfully attempted to obtain a pardon for O’Neal from President Bill Clinton.[8] Cleaver is also a cousin of the late Eldridge Cleaver, another prominent figure in the Black Panther Party.[9]

U.S. House of Representatives

After the compromise Budget Control Act deal had been reached to resolve the 2011 debt-ceiling crisis, Cleaver called the deal a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich”.[10]

Committee assignments

Caucus membership


During his tenure, Cleaver has voted with the Democratic Party 95.8% of the time.[13] He has been recognized as “not shy about earmarks” and has brought many federal tax dollars back to Kansas City.[14] As of 2022, he had voted with President Joe Biden’s stated position 100% of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight.[15]

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.”[16]

On December 18, 2019, Cleaver voted for both articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump and is one of only two Missouri House members to do so, along with Lacy Clay.[17]

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.[18]

Political campaigns

Cleaver’s 110th Congressional session portrait

In late 2003, Karen McCarthy, who had represented the 5th congressional district since 1995, announced her retirement. Though he served in city government for 20 years, including eight as mayor, Cleaver initially posted weak numbers in the Democratic primary and general elections, but defeated former Clinton Administration official Jamie Metzl in the Democratic primary, 60%-40%. 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 Missouri’s second-most Democratic district, behind the St. Louis-based 1st. The Democrats have held this seat for all but eight years since 1909, and without interruption since 1949. McCarthy won 65% of the vote in 2002.

2008 Democratic presidential primary election

During the 2008 Democratic presidential primaries, Cleaver endorsed Hillary Clinton.[19] He 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.”[20] On March 30, 2008, Cleaver 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.”[21] According to BlackMissouri.com.,[22] 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?” Cleaver said, “I told him I’d think about it.” Cleaver said during the primary he’d be shocked if Obama wasn’t the next president but made clear he still supported Clinton until she suspended her bid.

Political positions

Cleaver voted to provide Israel with support following 2023 Hamas attack on Israel.[23][24]

Electoral history

Kansas City Mayoral election, 1991
Nonpartisan Emanuel Cleaver 50,204 53
NonpartisanBob Lewellen43,98947
Kansas City Mayoral election, 1995
Nonpartisan Emanuel Cleaver 51,057 55
NonpartisanDan Cofran41,02445
2004 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri’s 5th Congressional District
DemocraticEmanuel Cleaver 161,727 55.19
RepublicanJeanne Patterson123,43142.12
LibertarianRick Bailie5,8271.99
ConstitutionDarin Rodenberg2,0400.70
2006 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri’s 5th Congressional District
DemocraticEmanuel Cleaver 136,149 64.25
RepublicanJacob Turk68,45632.30
LibertarianRandy Langkraehr7,3143.45
2008 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri’s 5th Congressional District
DemocraticEmanuel Cleaver 197,249 64.37
RepublicanJacob Turk109,16635.63
2010 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri’s 5th Congressional District
DemocraticEmanuel Cleaver 102,076 53.32
RepublicanJacob Turk84,57844.18
LibertarianRandy Langkraehr3,0771.61
ConstitutionDave Lay1,6920.88
2012 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri’s 5th Congressional District
DemocraticEmanuel Cleaver 200,290 60.52
RepublicanJacob Turk122,14936.91
LibertarianRandy Langkraehr8,4972.57
2014 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri’s 5th Congressional District
DemocraticEmanuel Cleaver 79,256 51.59
RepublicanJacob Turk69,07144.96
LibertarianRoy Welborn5,3083.46
2016 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri’s 5th Congressional District
DemocraticEmanuel Cleaver 190,766 58.8
RepublicanJacob Turk123,77138.2
LibertarianRoy Welborn9,7333
2018 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri’s 5th Congressional District
DemocraticEmanuel Cleaver 175,019 61.7
RepublicanJacob Turk101,06935.6
LibertarianAlexander Howell4,7251
2020 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri’s 5th Congressional District
DemocraticEmanuel Cleaver (incumbent) 207,180 58.8
RepublicanRyan Derks135,93438.6
LibertarianRobin Dominick9,2722.6
2022 Election for U.S. Representative of Missouri’s 5th Congressional District
DemocraticEmanuel Cleaver (incumbent) 140,688 61.0
RepublicanJacob Turk84,00836.4
LibertarianRobin Dominick5,8592.5

Personal life

Emanuel Cleaver and his wife, Dianne, have four children. They reside in Kansas City.[25]

In 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.[26]

In 2012, Bank of America sued Emanuel and Dianne Cleaver and Cleaver Company LLC, alleging that the company had defaulted on a $1.46 million commercial real estate loan obtained a decade earlier for a Grandview car wash.[27][28][29] In 2013, the lawsuit was settled.[29] Cleaver’s congressional wages were garnished to repay the money owed.[30]

In June 2023, Emanuel Cleaver officiated the wedding of fellow Democratic Congressman and former House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, and Elaine Kamarck, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.[31]

See also


  1. ^ a b “CLEAVER, Emanuel, II”. Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Retrieved September 21, 2021.
  2. ^ “Congressional Record Extensions of Remarks Articles”. www.congress.gov. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  3. ^ a b Cheam, Bunthay (April 8, 2007). “Emanuel Cleaver (1944- ) •”. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  4. ^ “Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress – Retro Member details”. bioguideretro.congress.gov. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  5. ^ “History » St. James UMC”. www.stjamesumc.com. Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  6. ^ “Black History Month: Emanuel Cleaver II”. KSHB. February 2, 2017. Retrieved July 15, 2020.
  7. ^ David Helling, KC’s best and worst mayors: Where does Sly James rank?, Kansas City Star (June 12, 2018).
  8. ^ McKinley, James C. Jr. (November 23, 1997). “A Black Panther’s Mellow Exile: Farming in Africa”. The New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2018.
  9. ^ “Office Space: Emanuel Cleaver’s BBQ House”. Roll Call. November 4, 2015. Retrieved November 19, 2020.
  10. ^ Kim, Seung Min (August 1, 2011). “House liberals roar”. Politico. Retrieved August 2, 2011.
  11. ^ “Membership”. Congressional Black Caucus. Retrieved March 7, 2018.
  12. ^ “Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute”.
  13. ^ “Voting Statistics for Emanuel Cleaver”. The Political Guide. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  14. ^ “Congressman Emanuel Cleaver, II”. Jackson County Democratic Committee. Archived from the original on June 4, 2012. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  15. ^ Bycoffe, Aaron; Wiederkehr, Anna (April 22, 2021). “Does Your Member Of Congress Vote With Or Against Biden?”. FiveThirtyEight. Retrieved November 15, 2023.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Panetta, Grace (December 18, 2019). “WHIP COUNT: Here’s which members of the House voted for and against impeaching Trump”. Business Insider. Retrieved February 12, 2020.
  18. ^ “FBI Probes Vandalism as Congressman’s Office”. ABC News. September 11, 2014. Retrieved September 11, 2014.
  19. ^ Missouri Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II Endorses Clinton Archived August 22, 2007, at the Wayback Machine hillaryclinton.com, August 21, 2007
  20. ^ Cleaver: Black superdelegates backing Clinton are being “threatened” Kansas City Star, Keith Chrostowski, February 28, 2008
  21. ^ What Not To Say on Canadian Radio Archived March 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Christopher Beam, Slate, April 1, 2008
  22. ^ Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri Endorses Hillary blackmissouri.com, February 15, 2008
  23. ^ Demirjian, Karoun (October 25, 2023). “House Declares Solidarity With Israel in First Legislation Under New Speaker”. The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved October 30, 2023.
  24. ^ Washington, U. S. Capitol Room H154; p:225-7000, DC 20515-6601 (October 25, 2023). “Roll Call 528 Roll Call 528, Bill Number: H. Res. 771, 118th Congress, 1st Session”. Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved October 30, 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  25. ^ “Full Biography”. U.S. House of Representatives. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  26. ^ City of Kansas City [MO] (June 15, 2000). Ordinance #000771, Council of Kansas City. kcmo.org, passed June 15, 2000, effective June 25, 2000. Retrieved from http://cityclerk.kcmo.org/LiveWeb/Documents/Document.aspx?q=Kuh8rXvHZqk3AMAQH1LHksLCIicTHNYXojLZy1x/0AsdOxTi42VHlGoLabg22X7B.
  27. ^ “BOA sues Cleaver, company for $1.5 million”. BusinessWeek. Associated Press. April 6, 2012. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ a b Bank, U.S. Rep. Cleaver settle lawsuit over car wash, Kansas City Star (April 17, 2013).
  30. ^ Dave Helling, Court issues order to garnish Emanuel Cleaver’s congressional wages in car wash case, Kansas City Star (February 18, 2014).
  31. ^ “Playbook: Rahm Emanuel is not done with politics”. Politico. June 30, 2023.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by

Mayor of Kansas City
Succeeded by

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Missouri’s 5th congressional district

Preceded by

Chair of Congressional Black Caucus
Succeeded by

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by

United States representatives by seniority
Succeeded by