November 10, 2018


The Midterms Swept in a New Class of Black Politicians: Most of the winners are under 40. And most seem likely to run for even higher offices down the line. (EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE, 11/10/18, The Atlantic)

Tuesday saw the election of three new African American lieutenant governors, four new African American attorneys general, and seven new African American members of the House. (An eighth candidate, Steve Horsford, won back a seat he had previously held.) Other elections had reverberations lower down, like the 19 black women elected to county-judge spots in Texas or the black woman who will now become the majority leader of the New York State Senate.

Most are under 40 years old. Most are the first African Americans elected to the jobs they now hold. And most seem likely to run for even higher offices down the line.

"We stand on this stage upon the shoulders of giants who had a vision that went beyond generations," said Garlin Gilchrist, the new lieutenant governor of Michigan, claiming victory on Tuesday night. "And it's our generation's responsibility to live up to that responsibility by having our imaginations exceed our expectations."

Gilchrist got into politics two years ago, after he tried to vote in the 2016 election, had a problem with his ballot at the local library, and was urged by the people around him to run for city clerk in Detroit to address those same access issues. He lost, but ended up making a big-enough impression that Gretchen Whitmer picked him as her running mate over the summer, making him the first African American elected statewide in Michigan. Not far away, Mandela Barnes, a 31-year-old former community organizer from Milwaukee, was elected lieutenant governor after two terms in the state assembly.

In public and in interviews, many of these new elected officials talk about the larger historical legacy they're part of, and what policy problems they want to tackle now that they've won. "There is definitely the sense that there is a certain weight that comes with it," Barnes said, referring to the responsibility of being elected in this moment as a young black leader. "And I accept it."

They also talk about the racism and bias, implicit and explicit, that they faced during their campaigns. 

Posted by at November 10, 2018 7:46 AM