Election Day races Black voters should be paying attention to this week

·5 min read

Donna Brazile breaks down Tuesday’s biggest races that will have implications for Black America. The stakes are also high in elections where Black candidates aren’t on the ballot.

New York City is on the threshold of getting its second Black mayor in history and Black candidates are waging strong campaigns in other elections around the country being held Tuesday.

The stakes are high for African Americans in elections where Black candidates aren’t on the ballot as well. This is particularly true where Republican candidates backed by defeated former President Donald Trump are playing the race card in an effort to get elected by trying to scare White voters, as is happening in the Virginia governor’s race.

New York Mayoral Candidates Eric Adams and Curtis Sliwa
New York Mayoral Candidates Eric Adams and Curtis Sliwa (Photo: Getty Images)

The Black candidate heavily favored to be elected mayor of New York City is Democrat Eric Adams. He’s the Brooklyn borough president, a former state senator and a former police captain. Adams is a moderate and a pragmatist, with a strong record of accomplishment in government. He’s heavily favored to defeat Republican Curtis Sliwa, who has absurdly claimed that systemic racism isn’t an issue in the New York City Police Department and Fire Department.

Sliwa’s remark prompted Adams to call the White candidate a “racist” and a “Mini-Me of Donald Trump.” Sliwa, who founded the Guardian Angels subway patrol group decades ago, is now a 67-year-old right-wing radio host. He denies the racism charge.

The tight contest for Virginia governor Tuesday is drawing the most national attention. There is no Black candidate in the election, in which Trump-endorsed Republican Glenn Youngkin is making education his biggest issue in his race against former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe.

Glenn Youngkin and Terry McAuliffe with Kamala Harris
Republican Virginia gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin and Democrat candidate Terry McAuliffe with Vice President Kamala Harris. (Photo: Getty Images)

Youngkin sounds like Chicken Little warning that the sky is falling when he rings alarm bells about the alleged dangers of critical race theory being taught in schools, even though the theory about systemic racism isn’t taught in Virginia schools.

The Republican candidate is running a TV ad demonizing the work of Toni Morrison, the brilliant Black author of the book Beloved, which won the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 1988. The book is about slavery and it paints an explicit and realistic picture of the immoral institution.

The Youngkin ad features a White mother complaining about how her son was assigned the book in school, falsely making it sound like a porn novel. What the ad doesn’t reveal is that the mother is conservative activist Laura Murphy, that her son Blake was assigned to read Beloved when he was a senior in a high school 10 years ago, and that Blake is now a 27-year-old lawyer working for the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The hysteria over critical race theory is also playing a role in school board elections around the country Tuesday. We need to support candidates who are not part of the campaign to whitewash America’s history of slavery and racism.

A Washington Post poll published Friday found that 86% of Black voters in Virginia are supporting McAuliffe, who was an outstanding governor, and only 7% favor Youngkin. Black voters aren’t stupid. We know who’s on our side.

Virginia will also have its first woman of color as lieutenant governor regardless of who wins in Tuesday’s elections: Black Democrat Hala Ayala, an Afro-Latina, or Republican Winsome Sears.

Virginia lieutenant governor candidates, Democrat Hala Ayala (left), an Afro-Latina, or Republican Winsome Sears
Virginia lieutenant governor candidates, Democrat Hala Ayala (left), an Afro-Latina, or Republican Winsome Sears. (Photo: Getty Images)

The only other governor’s race on the ballot Tuesday is in New Jersey. Democratic Governor Phil Murphy has earned another term with his excellent performance. He has a big lead in the polls over Republican Jack Ciattarelli, but the lead in opinion polls means nothing if voters don’t cast ballots for Murphy.

There are Black mayoral candidates on the ballot Tuesday in other big cities besides New York. These include Atlanta (Felicia A. Moore and former Mayor Kasim Reed); Columbia, S.C. (Tameka Devine); Buffalo, N.Y. (Byron Brown, India Walton): Jersey City, N.J. (Lewis Spears); Cleveland, Ohio (Justin Bibb); Cincinnati, Ohio (David Mann); Harrisburg, Pa., (Wanda Williams); St Paul Minn. (Melvin Carter, Miki Frost, Dora Jones-Robinson); and Durham, N.C. (Elaine O’Neal), along with others. In the small city of Helena, Mont., where less than 1% of the population is Black, Mayor Wilmot Collins is up for re-election.

Atlanta mayoral candidates Felicia A. Moore and former Mayor Kasim Reed
Atlanta mayoral candidates Felicia A. Moore and former Mayor Kasim Reed. (Photo: Fox 5 Atlanta; Getty Images)

In Florida, 11 candidates are competing Tuesday in a Democratic primary and two are competing in a Republican primary for a U.S. House seat covering the Fort Lauderdale area left vacant by the death of Democratic Rep. Alcee Hastings in April, one of the most prominent Black members of Congress. The general election in the heavily Democratic district with a large Black population will take place on Jan. 11, 2022.

In the Cleveland, Ohio area two Black candidates — Democrat Shontel Brown and Republican Laverne Gore — are running Tuesday to succeed former U.S. Rep. Marcia Fudge, who resigned from her House seat after she was confirmed as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Biden administration earlier this year.

Remember, politics isn’t a spectator sport. Candidates who will do good things for the Black community and the larger community need your vote to get elected. So if you have an election in your area and aren’t among the millions of Americans who voted early it’s important that you cast your ballot Tuesday.

Donna Brazile Headshot thegrio.com
Donna Brazile Headshot thegrio.com

Donna Brazile is an ABC News Contributor, veteran political strategist, an adjunct professor at Georgetown University, and the King Endowed Chair in Public Policy at Howard University. She previously served as interim Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and of the DNC’s Voting Rights Institute. She managed the Gore campaign in 2000 and has lectured at more than 225 colleges and universities on race, diversity, women, leadership and restoring civility in politics. Brazile is the author of several books, including the New York Times’ bestseller “Hacks: The Inside Story of the Break-ins and Breakdowns That Put Donald Trump in the White House.” @DonnaBrazile

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