Midterms Recap: The New Black Congress Members Joining the Battle Against Trump

In a midterm election cycle marked by tight races and brutal contests, the Democrats emerged victorious in key races, capturing the majority of the House. However, history was not made in high-profile, competitive races for the governor’s mansions as Andrew Gillum in Florida and Benjamin Jealous in Maryland lost their bids to become the first African American chief executives of those states.  In one of the biggest battles of the election season, Democrat Stacey Abrams refused to concede to her Republican opponent Brian Kemp in the gubernatorial race in Georgia due to the fact that the contest is still too close to call.

With an estimated votes approaching 3.8 million, Kemp was just shy of 51%, but Abrams and her campaign maintain that there were enough outstanding ballots – notably, those that were absentee and mail-in ballots in heavily Democratic metro Atlanta counties, — to bring him below the majority threshold required for victory. In that scenario, it could trigger a runoff between the two. Throughout the Georgia race, there were allegations of voter suppression leveled at Kemp, the Secretary of State who oversees voter registration regulations. However, two federal rulings last week allowed roughly 3,000 naturalized U.S. citizens to vote in Tuesday’s elections and in addition, the state has been prevented from tossing out absentee ballots placed on hold due to Georgia’s “exact-match” law stipulating that personal information on voter applications must correspond to state databases. With a significant turnout from African Americans throughout the state – including during early voting — Abrams received 93% of that vote.

With approximately 114 million votes cast in U.S. House races in 2018 versus 83 million in 2014, according to estimates by The New York Times, strong black voter turnout — along with women, Latinos, millennials and new voters — proved to be a significant factor in key Democratic victories Barack Obama, who crisscrossed the nation to campaigns for Democratic candidates vying for Congress and the statehouse released a statement today on the Midterms’ outcome: “The Democrats’ success in flipping the House of Representatives, several governorships, and state legislatures will get the most attention. But even more important than what we won is how we won; by competing in places we haven’t been competitive in a long time, and by electing record numbers of women and young veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, a surge of minority candidates, and a host of outstanding young leaders. The more Americans vote, the more our elected leaders look like America.”

And Women’s March, an organization focused on empowerment, released this statement on the power of the female vote in terms of bringing greater diversity to political representation:

The #WomensWave that just took the House is flooding our country, electing the most diverse Congress in our nation’s history, and adding millions of formerly disenfranchised voters to the rolls. Candidates like Stacey Abrams inspired the nation. She continues to inspire, fighting for democracy and working to ensure that every single vote is counted. We elected the first two Muslim women to ever serve in Congress, Black women will make history representing Massachusetts and Connecticut, and two Latinas will make history representing Texas. And voters showed up to elect two Native women to Congress, a historic first that will help reshape the future for Indigenous people on a federal level.

The loss of the House represents a huge defeat for Donald Trump in which Democrats flipped seats in key districts in such states as Virginia, Florida, Texas, Colorado and Michigan, especially in urban and suburban areas.

The party fell short, however, in their takeover of the U.S. Senate, marked by a major loss in Texas: Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke was defeated in a nail-biting campaign to unseat Texas incumbent Ted Cruz, former GOP candidate for president in 2016. The Senate’s hold on red states like Indiana and Tennessee was largely due to the embrace of Trumpism – namely, supporting Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Justice and deriding the migrant caravan as a threat to national security. Democrat Mike Espy may still become the state’s first black U.S. Senator since Reconstruction though; Due to the fact that he and Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-White did not gain more than 50% of the vote in the special election, the two will face off in the Nov. 27 run-off.

By retaining control of the Senate, however, Trump can move forward on nomination and approval of federal judges and possibly Supreme Court justices, solidifying a conservative bench that can make rulings shaping a generation,

The African Americans Joining Congress

What does all of this mean? More partisan and ferocious political battles in a divided government. The Democrats control of the House will have a huge impact on the Trump, giving a branch of Congress oversight of an Administration that has operated unchecked. As such, Democrats will gain key chairmanships, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus like Rep. Maxine Waters and Rep. Elijah Cummings, who will take the reins of Financial Services and Oversight & Government Reform committees, respectively. With their renewed status, the Dems will most assuredly engage in investigations, use their subpoena power and very well pursue impeachment of the president if they gain an opening, possibly through the ongoing Mueller investigation.

African Americans joining the 116th Congress also plan to vigorously challenge Trump’s agenda. This group – a number of whom are young history makers and women – represent the pool of diverse candidates who beat establishment GOP politicians:

 

-Former Boston City Council Member Ayanna Pressley, 44, became the first African American Congresswoman in the state of Massachusetts. Now representing the 7th district – the only one in the state that’s composed of primarily minorities – Pressley paved her way to Congress with her Democratic primary victory over 10-term incumbent Michael Capuano, who has backed prominent black politicians like civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Massachusetts first black governor, Deval Patrick.

black congress, midterms

Ayanna Pressley

-Schoolteacher Jahana Hayes, 45, emerged victorious in her campaign to become the first African American woman to represent Connecticut, defeating Republican Manny Santos in the state’s hotly-contested 5th district.

black congress, midterms

Jahana Hayes

-One of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, Ilhan Omar, 35, will now assume the Minnesota seat previously held by Keith Ellison, the deputy Democratic National Committee Chair, who was elected the state’s Attorney General. Running on a platform that includes Medicare-for-all and free tuition, she handily won the seat. Rashida Tlaib was the other Muslim women who won in her bid for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District seat.

black congress, midterms

Ilhan Omar

-A former adviser to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and registered nurse who never held office, Lauren Underwood scored an upset victory by defeating four-term Republican incumbent Randy Hultgren to win a seat in Congress from Illinois’ 14th Congressional District. Gaining donors outside the state, she also beat Hultgren in raising campaign funds: $ 4 million to $ 2 million.

black congress, midterms

Lauren Underwood

After months of being attacked on his past career as a rapper, Antonio Delgado, 41, a Harvard-trained attorney and Rhodes scholar, campaigned in New York’s 19th District on expanding health care to win against GOP incumbent John Faso, who supported the Republican plan that discarded provisions for pre-existing conditions.

black congress, midterms

Antonio Delgado

-Former NFL player and civil rights attorney Colin Allred, 35, changed Texas’s 32nd District from blue to red by giving the Dems a major victory in a battleground state: Unseating GOP Rep. Pete Sessions, a 22-year congressional veteran and powerful chairman of the House Rules Committee.

black congress, midterms

Colin Allred

-Democrat Joe Neguse, an attorney and civic leader of Eritrean heritage, became the first black congressman from Colorado, when he defeated GOP challenger Peter Yu to represent the 2nd District that includes Boulder and Fort Collins. He won the seat vacated by Democrat Jared Polis, who was elected the first openly gay man to become governor in the nation.

black congress, midterms

Joe Neguse

-In the race for Nevada’s 4th District, Steve Horsford, 45, clinched his return engagement to Congress beating Republican Cresent Hardy. Horsford previously served as the district’s congressman from 2013 -2015, having lost his bid for a second term in 2014 and declined to run in 2016.

black congress, midterms

Steve Horsford

 

-The 29-year-old Bronx native and waitress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the first-time candidate who defeated Democrat Joe Crowley in the first primary challenge in 14 years. She is now the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress.

black congress, midterms

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Beyond those in congress, one who achieved a milestone in a statewide races vows to challenge Trump as well: Letitia James, now the first African American Attorney General for New York state, vows to use her position to investigate former real estate baron’s dealings.

The post Midterms Recap: The New Black Congress Members Joining the Battle Against Trump appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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Midterms Recap: The New Black Congress Members Joining the Battle Against Trump

In a midterm election cycle marked by tight races and brutal contests, the Democrats emerged victorious in key races, capturing the majority of the House. However, history was not made in high-profile, competitive races for the governor’s mansions as Andrew Gillum in Florida and Benjamin Jealous in Maryland lost their bids to become the first African American chief executives of those states.  In one of the biggest battles of the election season, Democrat Stacey Abrams refused to concede to her Republican opponent Brian Kemp in the gubernatorial race in Georgia due to the fact that the contest is still too close to call.

With an estimated votes approaching 3.8 million, Kemp was just shy of 51%, but Abrams and her campaign maintain that there were enough outstanding ballots – notably, those that were absentee and mail-in ballots in heavily Democratic metro Atlanta counties, — to bring him below the majority threshold required for victory. In that scenario, it could trigger a runoff between the two. Throughout the Georgia race, there were allegations of voter suppression leveled at Kemp, the Secretary of State who oversees voter registration regulations. However, two federal rulings last week allowed roughly 3,000 naturalized U.S. citizens to vote in Tuesday’s elections and in addition, the state has been prevented from tossing out absentee ballots placed on hold due to Georgia’s “exact-match” law stipulating that personal information on voter applications must correspond to state databases. With a significant turnout from African Americans throughout the state – including during early voting — Abrams received 93% of that vote.

With approximately 114 million votes cast in U.S. House races in 2018 versus 83 million in 2014, according to estimates by The New York Times, strong black voter turnout — along with women, Latinos, millennials and new voters — proved to be a significant factor in key Democratic victories Barack Obama, who crisscrossed the nation to campaigns for Democratic candidates vying for Congress and the statehouse released a statement today on the Midterms’ outcome: “The Democrats’ success in flipping the House of Representatives, several governorships, and state legislatures will get the most attention. But even more important than what we won is how we won; by competing in places we haven’t been competitive in a long time, and by electing record numbers of women and young veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan, a surge of minority candidates, and a host of outstanding young leaders. The more Americans vote, the more our elected leaders look like America.”

And Women’s March, an organization focused on empowerment, released this statement on the power of the female vote in terms of bringing greater diversity to political representation:

The #WomensWave that just took the House is flooding our country, electing the most diverse Congress in our nation’s history, and adding millions of formerly disenfranchised voters to the rolls. Candidates like Stacey Abrams inspired the nation. She continues to inspire, fighting for democracy and working to ensure that every single vote is counted. We elected the first two Muslim women to ever serve in Congress, Black women will make history representing Massachusetts and Connecticut, and two Latinas will make history representing Texas. And voters showed up to elect two Native women to Congress, a historic first that will help reshape the future for Indigenous people on a federal level.

The loss of the House represents a huge defeat for Donald Trump in which Democrats flipped seats in key districts in such states as Virginia, Florida, Texas, Colorado and Michigan, especially in urban and suburban areas.

The party fell short, however, in their takeover of the U.S. Senate, marked by a major loss in Texas: Democratic challenger Beto O’Rourke was defeated in a nail-biting campaign to unseat Texas incumbent Ted Cruz, former GOP candidate for president in 2016. The Senate’s hold on red states like Indiana and Tennessee was largely due to the embrace of Trumpism – namely, supporting Brett Kavanaugh as Supreme Court Justice and deriding the migrant caravan as a threat to national security. Democrat Mike Espy may still become the state’s first black U.S. Senator since Reconstruction though; Due to the fact that he and Republican incumbent Cindy Hyde-White did not gain more than 50% of the vote in the special election, the two will face off in the Nov. 27 run-off.

By retaining control of the Senate, however, Trump can move forward on nomination and approval of federal judges and possibly Supreme Court justices, solidifying a conservative bench that can make rulings shaping a generation,

The African Americans Joining Congress

What does all of this mean? More partisan and ferocious political battles in a divided government. The Democrats control of the House will have a huge impact on the Trump, giving a branch of Congress oversight of an Administration that has operated unchecked. As such, Democrats will gain key chairmanships, including members of the Congressional Black Caucus like Rep. Maxine Waters and Rep. Elijah Cummings, who will take the reins of Financial Services and Oversight & Government Reform committees, respectively. With their renewed status, the Dems will most assuredly engage in investigations, use their subpoena power and very well pursue impeachment of the president if they gain an opening, possibly through the ongoing Mueller investigation.

African Americans joining the 116th Congress also plan to vigorously challenge Trump’s agenda. This group – a number of whom are young history makers and women – represent the pool of diverse candidates who beat establishment GOP politicians:

 

-Former Boston City Council Member Ayanna Pressley, 44, became the first African American Congresswoman in the state of Massachusetts. Now representing the 7th district – the only one in the state that’s composed of primarily minorities – Pressley paved her way to Congress with her Democratic primary victory over 10-term incumbent Michael Capuano, who has backed prominent black politicians like civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Massachusetts first black governor, Deval Patrick.

black congress, midterms

Ayanna Pressley

-Schoolteacher Jahana Hayes, 45, emerged victorious in her campaign to become the first African American woman to represent Connecticut, defeating Republican Manny Santos in the state’s hotly-contested 5th district.

black congress, midterms

Jahana Hayes

-One of the first Muslim women elected to Congress, Ilhan Omar, 35, will now assume the Minnesota seat previously held by Keith Ellison, the deputy Democratic National Committee Chair, who was elected the state’s Attorney General. Running on a platform that includes Medicare-for-all and free tuition, she handily won the seat. Rashida Tlaib was the other Muslim women who won in her bid for Michigan’s 13th Congressional District seat.

black congress, midterms

Ilhan Omar

-A former adviser to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and registered nurse who never held office, Lauren Underwood scored an upset victory by defeating four-term Republican incumbent Randy Hultgren to win a seat in Congress from Illinois’ 14th Congressional District. Gaining donors outside the state, she also beat Hultgren in raising campaign funds: $ 4 million to $ 2 million.

black congress, midterms

Lauren Underwood

After months of being attacked on his past career as a rapper, Antonio Delgado, 41, a Harvard-trained attorney and Rhodes scholar, campaigned in New York’s 19th District on expanding health care to win against GOP incumbent John Faso, who supported the Republican plan that discarded provisions for pre-existing conditions.

black congress, midterms

Antonio Delgado

-Former NFL player and civil rights attorney Colin Allred, 35, changed Texas’s 32nd District from blue to red by giving the Dems a major victory in a battleground state: Unseating GOP Rep. Pete Sessions, a 22-year congressional veteran and powerful chairman of the House Rules Committee.

black congress, midterms

Colin Allred

-Democrat Joe Neguse, an attorney and civic leader of Eritrean heritage, became the first black congressman from Colorado, when he defeated GOP challenger Peter Yu to represent the 2nd District that includes Boulder and Fort Collins. He won the seat vacated by Democrat Jared Polis, who was elected the first openly gay man to become governor in the nation.

black congress, midterms

Joe Neguse

-In the race for Nevada’s 4th District, Steve Horsford, 45, clinched his return engagement to Congress beating Republican Cresent Hardy. Horsford previously served as the district’s congressman from 2013 -2015, having lost his bid for a second term in 2014 and declined to run in 2016.

black congress, midterms

Steve Horsford

 

-The 29-year-old Bronx native and waitress Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the first-time candidate who defeated Democrat Joe Crowley in the first primary challenge in 14 years. She is now the youngest woman ever to be elected to Congress.

black congress, midterms

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Beyond those in congress, one who achieved a milestone in a statewide races vows to challenge Trump as well: Letitia James, now the first African American Attorney General for New York state, vows to use her position to investigate former real estate baron’s dealings.

The post Midterms Recap: The New Black Congress Members Joining the Battle Against Trump appeared first on Black Enterprise.

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The Midterms and the Battle for the Ballot

People across the country will have the chance to sound off on voting rights at the ballot box in November: Ballot measures in North Carolina and Arkansas will determine whether the states enact voter ID laws; voters in Michigan and Maryland will be asked to decide on a measure that would eliminate voter registration deadlines; and Floridians will vote on whether felons should have the right to vote after serving their sentences.

But with one of the most important elections in a generation less than a month away, lawmakers in some states are mounting desperate, last-minute attempts to silence the voices of their constituents.

Voters in various states are facing blatant attacks on their access to the ballot in advance of a critical election. (Kim Creative Commons)

A controversial law that would make it nearly impossible for many Native American voters to cast their ballots on election day in North Dakota came before the Supreme Court this week. The Native American Rights Fund filed Brakebill v. Jaeger in 2016 to challenge the voter ID law, which would require voters in the state to present proof of identification and residential address at the polls. Because “the U.S. postal service does not provide residential delivery in rural Indian communities,” the organization explained, they often register using postal boxes as their physical addresses, which will no longer qualify as residential addresses under the law.

Voter ID laws in states across the country disproportionately disenfranchise people of color, college students, older people, people with disabilities and low-income people. HB 1369 is no different. Lawmakers in North Dakota ramped up their efforts to pass such laws soon after Senator Heidi Heitkamp’s narrow victory in 2012; she won her seat in that race by 3,000 votes, largely due to the strong support she received from indigenous communities.

NARF challenged the law on the grounds that it violated the Equal Protection Clause and Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Federal District Court Judge Daniel Hovland blocked the provision of the law pertaining to proof of address in April, writing in his judgment that “the State has acknowledged that Native American communities often lack residential street addresses” and concluding that “this is a clear ‘legal obstacle’ inhibiting the opportunity to vote.” On October 9, however, the Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision which ignores the challenges to that provision—effectively permitting lawmakers to silence tens of thousands of indigenous voters. 

“70,000 North Dakota residents lack a qualifying ID… and 18,000 North Dakota residents also lack supplemental documentation sufficient to permit them to vote without a qualifying ID,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg wrote in her dissent. She concluded that “the risk of disfranchisement is large.”

In Georgia, a similar attack on the voting rights of communities of color is underway, led by Brian Kemp, the current Secretary of State and candidate for governor. Kemp’s new “No Match, No Vote” policy requires that any information in a voter’s registration application matches existing state records in their file exactly; under this statute, even a middle initial where a middle name once was or a dropped hyphen from a last name would disqualify someone from registering. 

As a result of Kemp’s policy, 53,000 voter applications are on hold. Seventy percent of them are from Black voters, even though they only make up 32 percent of the state’s population. 

“Brian Kemp is maliciously wielding the power of his office,” Abigail Collazo, Director of Strategic Communication for Kemp’s rival, Stacey Abrams, said in a statement, “to suppress the vote for political gain and silence the voices of thousands of eligible voters, the majority of them people of color.” If elected, Abrams would be the first Black female governor in U.S. history; her victory in the state’s gubernatorial primaries was proof of the power Black women voters, in particular, wield in her state.

The Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law (LCCR) has filed a lawsuit declaring that Kemp’s policy is in violation of the Voting Rights Act, the National Voter Registration Act and the first and fourteenth amendments to the Constitution. “Kemp has been a driving force behind multiple voter suppression efforts throughout the years in Georgia,” Kristen Clarke, the Committee president and executive director, asserted in a statement. “We will continue fighting voter suppression to ensure a level playing field for voters across Georgia this election cycle.”

Members of the National Domestic Worker’s Alliance and other voter’s rights advocates gathered Friday to in support of the Committee lawsuit and in protest of Kemp’s discriminatory policy. “This is a blatant attempt by Secretary Kemp to disenfranchise Black voters across the state,” National Domestic Workers Alliance Deputy Political Director Nikema Williams told the crowd outside the Georgia State Capitol. “It is disgraceful, and we all must stand up and demand that these registrations be processed swiftly so all Georgians can exercise their right to vote in the upcoming election.”

The LCCR, in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Florida, has also launched a similar lawsuit in Florida in the wake of Hurricane Michael, which hit the state’s coastline on October 9—killing 13 and leaving 1.4 million without power four days before its voter registration deadline. 

“Voters should not have to risk their lives in order to register to vote,” Julie Ebenstein, a Senior Staff Attorney on the Voting Rights Project with the ACLU, said in a statementThe groups filed a federal lawsuit seeking an extension of the deadline nationwide and arguing that Governor Rick Scott’s refusal to do so violates the fourteenth amendment. They also noted that, given a similar situation that occurred when Hurricane Matthew hit in 2016, it is likely that tens of thousands of people will register if the deadline is extended

Much is at stake in this year’s midterm elections—and the voices of voters will be critical in shaping the future of the country. It’s only fair that each and every U.S. citizen have the chance to be heard in 2018.

Victoria Sheber is an editorial intern at Ms., a debate instructor at Windward School and a member of the JusticeCorps at the Los Angeles Superior Court. Victoria is currently a senior at UCLA studying American Literature & Culture and History; she is also the President of the American Association of University Women chapter on campus and Assistant Section Editor for Fem Newsmagazine. She loves to read and write about feminist literature. 

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