North Carolina could have a Senate primary with three Black women—former state Sen. Erica Smith, former astronaut Joan Higginbotham, and former chief state Supreme Court justice Cheri Beasley.
All of these candidates will be running while the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is chaired by a Black former Senate candidate—South Carolina’s Jaime Harrison. And while the DNC doesn’t run the party’s Senate efforts, Harrison told Politico that “things have changed” from a time when the party’s record on support for Black candidates had “not always been great.”
”Raphael and I did get tremendous support from the [Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee],” Harrison said. “I think these organizations are also seeing, from the [Democratic Governors Association] to the DSCC, that these campaigns run by Black candidates bring a type of energy and grassroots energy that some other campaigns just don’t bring … and I think that’s something that the party has to tap into.”
Smith similarly pointed to the need for the party to embrace Black candidates as part of embracing the importance of grassroots Black voters.
”We’ve got to stop talking about Black women as the backbone of the Democratic Party, and instead make them the face of the party,” she said. “I mean, we vote 98 percent Democrat. We’ve got to look at that loyal voting bloc, and start supporting them at all levels in leadership.”
That means not just honoring the organizing efforts of Black women like Stacey Abrams and the New Georgia Project’s Nsé Ufot and Black Voters Matter’s LaTosha Brown because they organize and turn out votes for Joe Biden or Doug Jones, but doing our part—making calls, knocking on doors, giving money, writing letters—for Black candidates at every level. Honor the organizers by making sure that their organizing translates into power for their communities and candidates.
And when we talk about winning in states like North Carolina and Pennsylvania with Republican-controlled state legislatures, it’s also important for the Democrats in the current Congress to do the work of passing voting rights legislation. State Republicans across the country are pushing literally hundreds of bills to crush the right to vote, bills often aimed very explicitly at Black voters. If Senate Democrats cannot pass voting rights legislation like the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act, Republicans in many states will jam Democratic voters into a hole almost too deep to organize their way out of.
Donald Trump may be out of the White House, but this remains an existential fight.