After making history as the first Black woman Chief Justice of The Supreme Court of North Carolina, Cheri Beasley, a Democrat, has set her sights on the U.S. Senate in hopes to fill the space left by Vice President Kamala Harris, as there are currently no Black women senators.
Beasley announced her bid in April, as one of two Black women vying for the seat in North Carolina, alongside former state Senator Erica Smith. Richard Watkins, a former scientist who heads the Science Policy Action Network Inc, has also launched a campaign, meaning that there are three Black candidates in the closely watched race.
However many have already pitted Beasley against Jeff Jackson, a Charlotte resident and former district attorney running for Senate.
The race accelerated to a quick pace after Republican Senator Richard Burr announced his retirement, setting up a wide race running up to next year’s primary and election day in November 2022.
For too many families across North Carolina, the doors of opportunity have been closed. I'm running for Senate because it's time for that to change.
— Cheri Beasley (@CheriBeasleyNC) April 27, 2021
Since Harris’ departure after the 2020 election, the Senate has struggled to retain diversity. Currently, there are no Black women in the Senate. Prior to President Joe Biden’s inauguration, advocacy groups urged California Governor Gavin Newsom to pick another Black woman as Harris’ replacement, however, Alex Padilla was appointed, marking a place in history for Latino communities but closing the door on the qualified Black women who could have served in the role.
It was my honor to serve as Chief Justice of the NC Supreme Court – the first African American woman to do so. I worked hard to ensure everyone who came into my courtroom was treated fairly and with dignity.
There are 0 African American women in the Senate. We can change that. pic.twitter.com/fCaDl8lAf7
— Cheri Beasley (@CheriBeasleyNC) June 28, 2021
In my first race, my opponent said I couldn’t win because I was a mom. So I went door to door with my twin boys and won.
— Cheri Beasley (@CheriBeasleyNC) June 29, 2021
Prior to launching her campaign, Beasely made headlines last fall after she requested a recount in a highly contested run for Chief Justice against her colleague Paul Newby. While Beasley eventually lost her bid, the race was framed within the discussion of race as a factor after Newby voiced he felt more qualified than Beasley who had served on the court since 2012.
Harris’ bid for Senate marks an important era in American politics where Black women are eyeing high-profile political seats in order to have representation for issues central to Black communities and Black women including the wage gap, the maternal mortality rate, and police violence.
Over the last few weeks Beasley gained support from two major PACs focused on increasing diverse voices in the Senate, the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, Higher Heights for America PAC, as well as The Collective PAC and Democrats Serve.
“Cheri Beasley knows public service,” Democrats Serve executive director Brett Broesder said. “For more than two decades, she’s been serving the public as a front-line government worker. First, as a public defender. Then, as a state district court judge. This was followed by becoming the first Black state supreme court chief justice in the Tar Heel State’s 200-year history. For Cheri Beasley, serving and protecting North Carolina families isn’t just a job; it’s a way of life.”