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As the November midterms approach, caucuses across the U.S. are seeing a groundbreaking number of Black candidates running for Senate and governor.

The Washington Post reports that there have only been seven Black Senators and two Black governors since the end of the Civil War. This election season, there are sixteen major party candidates who are Black, thirteen Democrat and three Republican. Spanning from the Deep South into Midwestern states, several have polled strongly in battleground states.

The impressive polling results can be attributed to the candidates who, instead of invoking identity politics, focus on the key issues facing voters this Autumn-- particularly voting rights, student loan forgiveness, and access to abortion.

In Florida, Representative Val Demings is the Democratic nominee to challenge Republican Senator Marco Rubio's reelection campaign. Demings has made a point to focus on the issues, emphasizing the right to abortions. At a recent campaign rally, she likened the recent wave of reproductive restrictions to slavery.

“I don’t think anyone wants to go back to being treated like property, or being treated like a second-class citizen," she stated. "We know what that feels like, and we are not going back.”

Senators Tim Scott (R) and Raphael Warlock (D) are running for reelection in their states of South Carolina and Georgia. Also running in Georgia is Democrat Stacey Abrams, who is making her second bid for governor after a close loss in 2018. All three have already become the first Black candidate representing a major party in their states.

There are three sitting Black senators at the moment, two being Democrats from New Jersey, Scott Warnock and Cory Booker. Vice President Kamala Harris marks the third, also serving as the president of the Senate. In the House of Representatives, there are 56 Black members. There are currently no Black governors.

Mandela Barnes, a Democrat who is campaigning to be Wisconsin's first Black Senator, has appealed to voters in the state by citing his working-class upbringing in inner-city Milwaukee

“The members of the Senate, they don’t reflect America," Barnes said at a campaign event. "Most Senators don’t live in the American experience, they haven’t dealt with the challenges a majority of Americans deal with.”

Former Massachusetts governor Deval L. Patrick, the second Black governor in U.S. history, believes that Black candidates are “a long way from the promised land,” but that race is no longer the "barrier" it once was. Patrick has met with many of the 2022 candidates, saying of his new constituents: “I think what we are seeing is a whole bunch of candidates who are saying, ‘If that’s an issue, that is somebody’s else’s issue because there is more to me than that, and I am going to try to get people to see all of me.'"

Charles E. Jones, retired public policy professor at University of Cincinnati, takes the opposing stance to Patrick's, as "race is still very salient in society. He continued: "The numbers do speak for themselves. You still have a rarity of Black members in the U.S. Senate and the governor’s house.”

The success of current Black candidates could determine if “this is really a significant development for African Americans seeking higher office," Jones said. “Clearly, if you have most of them have the same viability of a Stacey Abrams, then we really could say we have a break through on that glass ceiling.”

Other Black Senatorial candidates include Will Boyd (D, Alabama), Natalie James (D, Arkansas), Cheri Beasley (D, North Carolina), Krystal Matthews (D, South Carolina), Herschel Walker (R, Georgia), Joe Pinion (R, New York), and Tim Scott (R, South Carolina).

Black gubernatorial candidates include Yolanda Flowers (D, Alabama), Deidre DeJear (D, Iowa), Wes Moore (D, Maryland), and Chris Jones (D, Oklahoma).

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