More Black Women Run for Office, but Prospects Fade the Higher They Go

Money, however, is perhaps the biggest hurdle. “For Black women to win, the money has to come early, and it has to come often, and it has to come in competitive amounts,” said Ms. James of the Collective PAC. The donations they receive tend to be fewer and smaller, researchers and Black political operatives and activists said.

Despite the obstacles, the support networks have grown, and in recent election cycles Black women have made headway in hard-to-win places. In 2020, Marquita Bradshaw, a Tennessee Democrat and environmental activist, was the only Black woman to secure a major-party nomination for Senate.

Last cycle, all four Black women nominated for Senate came from Southern states.

In Florida, Representative Val Demings raised about $81 million, the third-highest fund-raising amount of any Senate candidate, to take on Senator Marco Rubio. He raised nearly $51 million — and won.

In the Senate race in North Carolina, Cheri Beasley, a Democrat and former chief justice of the state’s Supreme Court, raised more than double what her Republican opponent, Representative Ted Budd, pulled in, but was outmatched in outside spending by Republicans. That plus Mr. Budd’s endorsement by former President Donald J. Trump seemed to tip the scales in an otherwise sleepy race.

The two other Black women who won nominations for Senate races last cycle — Krystle Matthews, a former state lawmaker from South Carolina, and Natalie James, a first-time candidate in Arkansas — never raised anywhere near the several million dollars required to mount competitive campaigns in those deep-red states, each bringing in only around $100,000.


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