For minority candidates, some heartbreak, success
Supporters cheer for Andrew Gillum, who lost a tight race for governor of Florida to Republican Ron Desantis.
The nation’s two most prominent rising black political stars – vying to make history in Georgia’s and Florida’s gubernatorial races - appeared to both fall short Tuesday night in disheartening losses to Democrats and minority activists.
Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum was defeated in his bid to become the first African-american governor of Florida, with election results showing him barely outedged by Republican former congressman Ron Desantis.
In Georgia, former state legislator Stacey Abrams attempting to become the country’s first black female governor – trailed in the late-night election tally against Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
On a night when black and minority candidates had been poised to break long-standing barriers, the double disappointments came despite massive fundraising efforts, national attention and a parade of black leaders and celebrities stumping on their behalf.
The Gillum and Abrams races also drew blatant racial attacks rarely seen since the civil rights era of the 1960s. And GOP officials in several states, including Georgia, tried to impose restrictions on voters that some voting rights advocates said harked back to suppression tactics against blacks in the Jim Crow South.
Other minority candidates, however, did claim historic outcomes.
Sharice Davids in Kansas and Debra Haaland in New Mexico both won their bids to become the first Native American female members of Congress. Minnesota’s Ilhan Omar and Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib will head to Washington as the first Muslim women in Congress. In Massachusetts, Ayanna Pressley faced no GOP opponent and was elected her state’s first black congresswoman.