In primary election races in several states on Tuesday, African-American female Democratic candidates—novices and veterans—stepped up and accepted the challenge of pursuing political leadership.
One race that flew under the radar but is now drawing attention was in Iowa, where Democratic candidate Deidre DeJear became the first African-American woman to win a major party nomination for a statewide office, the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier reported.
DeJear, a small businessowner, won her bid to represent the party in November for Iowa secretary of state. She squeezed out a narrow 51.2 percent win over rival Jim Mowrer.
In California, strong veteran incumbents, reps. Karen Bass in the 37th congressional district and Barbara Lee in the 13th, ran uncontested races. Longtime congresswoman Rep. Maxine Waters won 71.6 percent in her open primary race. Three Republicans competed in the district for Waters’ seat. GOP candidate Omar Navarro came the closest to Waters with 14.72 percent of the vote.
Meanwhile, London Breed’s bid to become San Francisco’s first African-American female mayor is on hold. On Tuesday night, Breed led her opponents with 35.6 percent of the vote. By early Wednesday morning, Mark Leno had 50.42 percent of the vote, and Breed found herself in second place with 49.58 percent because of the city’s election system called ranked-choice voting (RCV). Election officials are expected to declare a winner by Friday after counting all outstanding ballots.
Political novice Audri Scott Williams, one of the dozens of Black women who ran in Alabama on Tuesday, lost her U.S. House of Representatives primary race. She garnered 13,249 votes—39.6 percent of the vote—in a two-candidate race. However, Alabama Rep. Terri Sewell ran uncontested for her 7th congressional district seat. In 2011, she became the first Black woman elected to Congress from the state.
In New Jersey, another strong incumbent, Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, ran an uncontested race to defend her 12th congressional district seat. Two other newcomers took up the challenge but came up short. Tanzie Youngblood finished second with 19.2 percent of the vote against her main rival, conservative Democrat Jeff Van Drew, who topped the four-candidate field. The democratic establishment backed Van Drew, angering many progressives. In the state’s 11th congressional district race, former social worker Tamara Harris finished in second place with 14.5 percent of the vote in a four-candidate race, losing to frontrunner Mikie Sherril, whom former Vice President Joe Biden backed.
Omeria Scott, a veteran Mississippi state politician, came in third in a field of six candidates competing for a U.S. Senate seat. She earned 23.9 percent of the vote, despite the Democratic establishment supporting other candidates. Scott competed for the chance to become the first Black woman elected to the Senate from Mississippi.