PAC organized by Black business execs endorses 14 candidates

Carol Ozemhoya | OW Contributor | 9/11/2018, 9:59 a.m.
A new political organization initiated by Black business executives has endorsed 14 candidates in..

A new political organization initiated by Black business executives has endorsed 14 candidates in an effort to push Black economic issues across the country, reports USA Today. The Black Economic Alliance is putting its financial clout and connections behind candidates in high profile races, including Stacey Abrams (running for governor of Georgia); Mike Epsy (running for a U.S. Senate seat); Colin Allred (running for a seat in a Dallas district); and Steven Horsford (Nevada U.S. House seat). Tony Coles, the group’s co-chairman, said the alliance represents the first time that Black business leaders have joined together to build their own political action committee (PAC). “This is an important moment in time because we recognize that Black Americans haven’t been able to participate as fully and as completely in the American Dream” as other groups, said Coles, who is chairman and CEO of Yumanity Therapeutics, a Massachusetts-based biotech company. While Black unemployment dropped to historic lows this year, he noted that the rate – which hit 6.3 percent in August – still trails the white unemployment rate, which stands at 3.4 percent. Electing officials who will advance workforce development and other economic issues the alliance cares about will help all Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity, Coles said. “This will be a pebble that will create a ripple in a very big pond.” The alliance’s organizers, a mix of professionals from the worlds of finance, high-tech, politics and media, have met informally in the past through their philanthropic work and have donated individually to politicians. But Coles said they decided to pool their money into something bigger to make a “durable” impact. Its leaders include Charles Phillips, the CEO of software firm Infor and former president of Oracle; Marva Smalls, global head of inc lusion strategy for Viacom; and Fred Terrell, a senior adviser at Credit Suisse. Mellody Hobson, the president of Chicago-based investment firm Ariel Investments, donated $250,000 to the group in June, according to its Federal Election Commission filings. The group's board also is expanding to include some bold-faced political names: former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele; Ron Kirk, the former U.S. trade representative; former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm; and Bakari Sellers, a former state representative in South Carolina. The alliance’s action comes as a growing number of political action committees focus on boosting Black political power. The two-year-old Collective PAC spent nearly $2 million supporting Andrew Gillum’s upset victory in last month’s gubernatorial primary in Florida. Should the Democrat win in November, he would become Florida’s first Black chief executive. For more info on the Black Economic Alliance, go to www.blackeconomicalliance.org