Black senate candidates fell short in winning elections, but pushed the line in battleground territories.
Six Black candidates broke records when they ran to flip the senate from Republican to Democrat. But, their record breaking moment was extinguished by a lack of campaign funds and voters’ loyalty to the Republican party.
Out of nearly 2,000 US Senate members, only ten have been Black. Despite the past, African Americans ran in numbers never seen before during the 2020 election. In addition to South Carolina’s senate candidate Jaime Harrison, several more candidates stood to flip senate seats: Shreveport, Louisiana mayor, Adrian Perkins; environmental justice advocate Marquita Bradshaw in Tennessee; Georgia pastor of the famous Ebenezer Baptist Church, Raphael Warnock; and former US Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy in Mississippi.
Brproud reports that Perkins raised nearly $1.8 million compared to incumbent Senator Bill Cassidy’s (R-LA) $10.9 million. Additionally, The Tennessean reports that sitting Senator Bill Cassidy (R-TN) had three times as much campaign funds – $1.9 million plus a $800,000 bank loan compared to Bradshaw’s $630,000. Their lack of funding was reflected in the number of votes each candidate received. Both Perkins and Bradshaw, lost to their opponents by over 800,000 votes.
Perkins tweeted, “This is a small detour to a better road…It was always about people over politics.”
Conversely, that wasn’t the case for senate candidates Harrison and Espy. Vox reports that as of September, Harrison raised $85 million compared to incumbent Lindsey Graham’s (R-SC) $58 million. Still Graham managed to garner over 200,000 more votes than Harrison. As well, Mississippi Today reports that Espy raised $2.45 million more than his Republican opponent, Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS). Yet he lost to her by more than 100,000 votes.
Espy tweeted, “Mississippians, especially Black Mississippians, are overlooked by Washington, by the Democratic Party, by the Media…I want to be clear: what we have achieved is HISTORIC.”
Triumphs and tragic losses
So what stopped the Espy and Harrison from winning the election?
In spite of the many political faux pax of President Donald Trump, some of his supporters continued to back the Republican party and it showed on election day. The 2020 Election Center reports that President Trump won South Carolina by nearly 300,000 votes and received nine electoral votes. As well, he won Mississippi by over 200,000 votes and received six electoral votes according to the 2020 Election Center.
By contrast, incumbent Senator Cory Booker was able to sustain his Democratic seat in the senate, as voters stayed true to blue. Additionally, his proven track record of Coronavirus relief won voters over. Not only did he fight to protect the Affordable Care Act, but he also supported proposals that would increase access to healthcare and lower costs. Moreover, he introduced the Care for COVID-19 Act, which if passed would require health insurance plans to cover services related to the virus such as testing, preventative services with no out of pocket costs from patients.
Hopes to even out the senate still strong
But all hope is not lost. There is still one more senate seat up for grabs. Currently, senate candidate Reverend Raphael Warnock and incumbent Senator Kelly Loeffler are engaged in a runoff election that will come to a close by January 5.
If elected Warnock plans to advocate for medicaid expansion and push back against cuts in medicare funding. As well, he plans to advocate for livable wages, pay equity and provide access to capital for women and entrepreneurs of color. “We’re gonna flip Georgia blue, take the Senate back for the Democrats, and send @KLoeffler and @Perduesenate home,” says Warnock.
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