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ELECTION 2014
The 5 Most Critical Elections for African-Americans

Ray Baker rounds up some of the must-watch midterm races

by Ray Baker, November 3, 2014

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#BlackWomenVote

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Mid-term elections excite giddy cable news producers but don’t generate much interest among those who aren’t interested in politics. But this year there are several important races to consider that may change the landscape of black political faces across the nation. Some gubernatorial races are worth noting, while other Congressional races are poised to rewrite the history books. Because African-Americans are every bit apart of America, each and every midterm election is important. Here, however we focus on just a few specific races across the nation that are of interest and significance to Blacks.

 

Louisiana

The gulf state election is going to be one of the most interesting and competitive ones of the cycle. The election is an open primary where a candidate must get 50% of the vote to win. Otherwise there will be a run-off between the two candidates with the highest votes. Senator Mary Landrieu (D) is facing her most serious threat from Republican Congressman Bill Cassidy in the competitive Senate race. Landrieu made news when she told NBC’s Chuck Todd, President Obama struggles politically in her part of the country because the south “has not always been been the friendliest place for African-Americans.”  Republicans pounced on this statement as divisive and a last ditch effort for Landrieu to win voters. To her credit, Landrieu also noted the President’s popularity takes a hit in Louisiana because of his moratorium on offshore drilling. Recent polling has Sen. Landrieu ahead in a three-way race but down about four points in a head-to-head run off with Bill Cassidy.

Maryland

The state of Maryland is poised to make history and send an African American to the governor’s mansion in Annapolis. Lieutenant Gov. Anthony Brown is leading his Republican opponent Larry Hogan by as much as 13 points according to a CBS/New York Times/YouGov poll. Brown, a Harvard Law contemporary of President Barack Obama, has gotten support from some of the Democratic Party’s biggest surrogates. President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary have both stumped for Brown. Brown’s classmate President Obama has also been out in Maryland stumping for the man who would be Maryland’s first African-American governor. Hogan has been running ads attacking Brown as a continuation of the tax-happy O’Malley administration. Meanwhile, Brown has ads running throughout predominantly African-American Baltimore and Prince George’s County featuring the wildly popular first lady Michelle Obama.

Ohio

When most people hear Secretary of State, they think about the foreign affairs diplomat who handles most of America’s international relationships. On a state-level that role is slightly different and in Ohio this election may be one of the most important in the nation. GOP Incumbent Jon Husted is taking on Democratic challenger State Senator Nina Turner. This election holds so much importance because Ohio will be an important swing state in the 2016 Presidential elections. The secretary of state will be the point person on issuing directives regarding polling hours and location. Husted is a proponent for uniformity of hours and voting opportunity for all counties. Turner argues that a uniformed voting opportunities limits the franchise of those in heavily populated urban areas. She argues for an expansion of voting opportunities whereas Husted himself is on the record saying it’s unfair for a voter in one county to have more opportunity to vote than a voter in another county. This election will signal what to expect out of Ohio in 2016. The state was the center of controversy in 2004 when African-Americans in urban areas suffered from excessive wait times and insufficient voting opportunities. Some Democratic strategist believe the inability of Blacks in urban centers to cast their vote ultimately delivered the state and election to George W. Bush for a second term.

Utah

Former Mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah Mia Love is again running for the fourth congressional district seat. The daughter of Haitian immigrants, Ms. Love would be the first Haitian-American in congress and the first black woman from Utah if she were to win the election. In days leading up to the election a once safe seat has been getting tighter and tighter. Love is a Republican hoping to finally win the seat she’s been eyeing since the last election cycle. Her opponent, Democrat Doug Owens has the support of the newspaper of record in Salt Lake City as well as familial ties to Utah. Despite Owens associations, Love has the number one advantage anyone can have in American politics: money. She has raised more money than her opponent and has more cash on hand. This will allow her to finance a last day media blitz and GOTV effort on the day of her campaign. Lastly, Utah political observers say simply being a Republican should be enough to help her hold off the fast charging Owens and make history on election night.

 

Florida

This elections is important because the memory of Trayvon Martin is still alive and well for so many in Florida and across the nation. Unhappy with the way the criminal justice system initially handled George Zimmerman, some activist and protestors wanted Gov. Rick Scott to do more. This election is his moment of accountability to those such as the Dream Defenders who camped out in his office with him with demands for a repeal of Florida’s “Stand your ground” law. Scott’s biggest challenger is former Governor Charlie Crist. Crist was once a Republican but in losing a United States Senate primary he became an independent, before later becoming a Democrat and endorsing President Obama in 2012. Crist is back on the campaign trail in one of the nation’s closest battles. A RealClearPolitics average has Crist ahead by less than two percent. With Crist in office, those who believe Florida’s gun laws don’t go far enough and hope for more restrictions may not be getting the sympathetic ear they hoped for. As recently as 2010 he was rated an A- by the NRA on his record on second amendment issues.

 

Ray Baker is a multi-media journalist who has been featured on TVOne, BET and TruTV. He has also done work for The Washington Post and Politic365. You can follow him on twitter at @RayBakerMedia.

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