There Are Still Zero Black Women In The U.S. Senate
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The U.S. Senate Still Has Zero Black Women After Demings, Beasley Suffer Midterm Losses

Black Women
A new national poll of Black women voters revealed many are concerned with "pocketbook" issues including rent and groceries along with reproductive rights and gun control. (Screenshot: Youtube)

Since Kamala Harris became the vice president, the U.S Senate has been bereft of Black women, but it’s not due to lack of trying.

Two Black women, both Democrats, Florida Rep. Val Demings and Cheri Beasley in North Carolina, ran for the Senate in the 2022 midterm elections and did well, defying expectations and out-raising their opponents; however, both fell short. Demings fell to Rep. Marco Rubio, while Beasley lost to Rep. Ted Budd.

Both Black women sport impressive résumés. Demings has represented Florida’s 10th Congressional District in the U.S. House since 2017 and is a former Orlando police officer. Meanwhile, Beasley, a Duke University Law School graduate, has served as a  judge in the Tar Heel State for almost two decades and is the chief justice of the North Carolina State Supreme Court.

Impressive résumés are a constant for Black politicians as they often have to be overqualified to run for office, and it doesn’t guarantee success.

Chris Jones, who lost in the race for Arkansas governor to Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is the son of two preachers, a Morehouse College and M.I.T. graduate, and a nuclear engineer with a Ph.D. in urban planning. Newly elected Maryland Gov. Wes Moore is a Rhodes Scholar, U.S. Army combat veteran, author, and the former CEO of one of the nation’s largest anti-poverty organizations.

In addition to being overqualified, Black women in politics often have to fight against racial stereotypes and, in many cases, are undermined by their opponents. Demings ($72 million) and Beasley ($33 million) had impressive fundraising hauls during their campaigns, and the larger share of their donations came from out of state, which isn’t surprising.

Black women have no choice but to nationalize their races because their money has to come from out of state and in state,” Stefanie Brown James, co-founder of the Collective PAC, which supports Black political candidates. “We don’t have these built-in wealth networks to just stay in state, and to just have what’s discussed in your state be the only thing you talk about. You have to connect it to a national narrative. That’s what these women have been able to do so well.”

James added that while there are zero Black women in the Senate, it may not be long before you see one.

“Don’t count these women out,” Brown told The 19th. “They are quality candidates, and we miss the larger message if we only look at Nov. 8. I think the larger message is that they will have another political battle in front of them.”


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