Posted on June 4, 2010

Obama’s Win Apparently Hasn’t Helped Black Politicians in Campaigns

Perry Bacon Jr., Washington Post, June 4, 2010


The drubbing Tuesday of Rep. Artur Davis (D), who was running to be the first black governor of Alabama, was the latest in a series of defeats this year of African American politicians in primaries for statewide office. {snip} One of the nation’s two black governors, New York’s David Paterson (D), who has been plagued by ethics scandals, opted not to run this fall–the same decision made by the only black senator, Roland Burris (D-Ill.).

The only African American favored to win a gubernatorial or Senate race is Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick (D), who is running for a second term.

Aspiring black politicians, such as Rep. Kendrick B. Meek (D-Fla.), who is seeking a Senate seat, are underdogs in general-election contests. And while a number of black Republicans are running, many are losing in primaries.

The defeats suggest that Obama’s victory did not herald greater success for other black politicians.


The majority of black politicians in Washington are members of the Congressional Black Caucus, representing districts that are disproportionately liberal and African American, making it difficult for them to build broader coalitions of supporters to win a statewide race. {snip}


Black voters and activists, perhaps because of doubts about some black candidates’ ability to win, have not rallied around them as they did Obama.

African Americans “are so invested personally in Barack Obama the man, and it’s unique to him,” said Cornell Belcher, a black pollster who worked on the Obama campaign. “They are invested in him in a way they are not in other black political leaders.”


“There were a lot of people who were in fantasy land about black candidates all of sudden getting elected to all of these offices,” said David Bositis, who studies black political trends at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. {snip}