Five new African Americans on the way to Congress

Cynthia E. Griffin | 11/14/2012, 5 p.m.

With most ballots in the Nov. 6 election counted, a little analysis of the results as it relates to African Americans is in order.

Looking at the number of African Americans elected to Congress this go-round is a good starting point.
According to David Bositis, Ph.D., of the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, there was a net gain of one new Black congressional member.

Voters on both the West and East coasts sent African American politicians packing.

In California, beleaguered Congresswoman Laura Richardson lost out to her Democratic rival Janice Hahn in a bid to fill the newly created 44th Congressional District seat.

Richardson's loss follows action by the House Ethics Committee on Aug. 1, that found the Long Beach-area politician had made improper use of staff. It found that Richardson had broken federal law, violated House rules and obstructed the committee's own investigation. The committee called on the full House to reprimand Richardson, and the House approved such a reprimand on a voice vote the following day.

Richardson, who graduated with a bachelor's degree in political science from UCLA in 1984, began her political career as a Long Beach City Council member from 2000 to 2006. In 2004, she won a second term outright on the first ballot.

Among her accomplishments as a council member, Richardson established the Sixth District Master Plan, a strategic guideline for development in the area. Other significant accomplishments during her council tenure include securing the first funding for alley maintenance by the city of Long Beach, and initiating the planning process for a Senior Transportation Program in the central area of Long Beach.

After leaving the City Council, Richardson briefly served in the California Assembly where she served as the assistant speaker pro tempore. Richardson was the first African American and South Bay representative to achieve this position. Additionally, Richardson was appointed to serve on the Budget, Human Services, Utilities and Commerce, Government Organization, and Joint Legislative Budget committees. She was chair of the Select Committee on Proposition 209-Equal Opportunity.

On the East Coast, Tea Party favorite Allen West, representing Florida's 22nd District, was defeated in a close race by Patrick Murphy (166,799 votes to 164,370).

But citing "disturbing irregularities," the Florida lawmaker early on demanded a recount.

West filed lawsuits to have ballots and voting machines impounded in Palm Beach and St. Lucie counties. However, the judge in Palm Beach threw the case out on Friday, telling West's lawyers that their arguments fell "woefully short" of what was required for an injunction.

A St. Lucie judge was slated to hear West's case on Tuesday, but on Wednesday West was still awaiting a decision.

New to Congress as result of the election is Donald Payne Jr., who will fill the seat his father, former Rep. Donald M. Payne, held for two decades before succumbing to colon cancer earlier this year. The New Jersey lawmaker is currently president of the Newark Municipal Council.

New York Assembly member Hakeem Jeffries will succeed the retiring Rep. Edolphus Towns.