While Democrats did well across the country on Tuesday, taking back the U.S. House and still leading in two close Senate races Wednesday, the news was somewhat mixed for black candidates running nationally in both parties.
Illinois Sen. Barack Obama remains the only African American in the United States Senate after two black candidates -one Democrat and one Republican -lost their senate bids on Tuesday.
Democrat and Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr., 36, lost his bid to become the first black senator elected from the South since Reconstruction and the volunteer state’s first black senator ever, losing to Republican Bob Corker.
In Maryland, Republican Michael Steele, the state’s Attorney General, lost in a tight race to become that state’s first black senator, losing to Democrat Ben Cardin.
To date, only six blacks have been elected to the U.S. Senate in the nation’s 230-year history. In 1992, Carol Moseley Braun became Illinois’ first woman senator, and, the first black female ever elected to the U.S. Senate. She lost reelection in 1998. Braun remains the U.S. Senate’s first, and still only, black woman senator ever elected.
Nationwide on Tuesday, African Americans saw a major victory in Massachusetts as civil rights attorney and former Clinton Justice Department official Deval Patrick win the governor’s race over Republican Lt. Gov. Kerry Healy. Patrick, 50, is that state’s first ever African American governor, and the state’s first Democratic state chief executive since 1991.
Patrick is the nation’s second African American governor elected. Former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder was elected in 1990, serving until 1994. He is currently mayor of Richmond Virginia.
In Ohio’s governor’s race, John Blackwell, the state’s secretary of state and a black Republican, lost his gubernatorial bid to Democrat Ted Strickland, a U.S. congressman.