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.
In Ohio, Joyce Beatty easily won her race with 68 percent of the vote. An educator and entrepreneur, Beatty will represent a newly drawn district in Ohio. A former member of the Ohio state house, she filled a seat previously held by her husband and became the chamber’s first female Democratic leader.
In Texas, former congressional district aide, Marc Veasey makes the fourth Texan in Congress.
Nevada’s Steven Horsford will be the first African American to represent Nevada in Congress. He was also the first African American to serve as majority leader of his state’s senate and the youngest person to ever hold the post.
“Steven Horsford is somebody to watch,” predicts the Joint Center’s Bositis because of his Nevada state-house experience coupled in part with the fact that he was elected in a non-majority Black district.
Bositis says this is the largest number of Blacks in Congress ever and while Republican control of the House may prevent them for making any gains immediately, this will definitely change, should the Democrats take back the House during the next election cycle.
Another interesting point in these November elections, according to Bositis, is that African American candidates, Republican or Democrat, typically either win big or lose big. However, this year there were a number of African American candidates who pulled in a decent share of the two-party vote.
Bositis points to Black Republican Vernon Parker in Arizona who lost to a bisexual agnostic woman, despite earning 45 percent of the vote.
In Florida, Al Lawson ran against incumbent Steve Southerland and earned 47 percent of the votes.
In Florida, Val Demings, the first woman to serve as chief of the Orlando Police Department, collected 48 percent of the vote in her loss to incumbent, Republican Daniel Webster.
The Joint Center political analyst says these and other races, as well as the fact that a number of Congressional races saw Blacks collect 300,000 and 200,000 votes (which is rare for any congressional race) demonstrates that African Americans can run competitive races; even in non-Black majority districts.