Democratic presidential contenders, Sens. Kamala Harris of California and New Jersey’s Cory Booker, appeared to pursue the all-important Black vote quietly–not calling too much attention to their blackness.
Booker officially entered the 2020 Democratic presidential primary on Friday, a little more than a week after Harris threw her hat into the ring in what’s expected to be a crowded field of candidates.
Many political strategists and likely candidates expect the African-American voting bloc to play a key role in determining which Democratic hopeful will win the nomination to take on President Donald Trump next year. In other words, it will be tough to win the Democratic primary without winning the Black vote.
From day one of their campaigns, Booker and Harris courted Black voters in subtle ways. Booker officially launched his presidential bid on the first day of Black History Month. After the announcement, he went on Black radio’s iconic “Tom Joyner Morning Show” and Joe Madison‘s “The Black Eagle” on SiriusXM’s Urban View channel.
Harris first announced her candidacy on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. She’s also based her campaign in Baltimore and her hometown of Oakland—two cities with long-established Black communities.
The candidate’s next stop was to her alma mater, Howard University, one of the nation’s top historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU). Harris continued to reach deeper into her deep ties to HBCU community. By the end of that week, she attended a fundraising gala with her Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA) sorority sisters.
Behind the scenes, Harris and Booker have been competing for endorsements from their fellow member of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), according to Politico. The two candidates are doing their best to access networks of Black voters in states like South Carolina, Ohio and Michigan.
However, there’s no guarantee that Black voters will automatically cast their ballots for Harris or Booker. Black voters might be put off by Harris’ tough-on-crime approach on Black families when she was a prosecutor, the Washington Post noted. They may also have reservations about voting for Booker over his close relationship with Wall Street and major pharmaceutical companies.
“I want to see their policies and platforms, and really want to take a look at what they want and are proposing and how that will affect the Black and other marginalized communities in this country,” Black activist Johnetta Elzie told The Post.