Politics

Black Democrats Mum on 2020 Hopefuls

Black Democrats across the country agree that President Trump has to go in 2020, but are still weighing their options for who should be the next occupant of the White House.

“I have not decided whom I will support for president in 2020,” said Sheila Huggins, a Black North Carolina delegate to the 2019 Democratic National Committee’s (DNC) winter meeting that took place Feb. 14-16 at the Marriott Marquis in northwest D.C.

Huggins said she and other members of the DNC met with Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), an African American, on Feb. 14 to hear his ideas on why he wanted to be president.

While Booker impressed Huggins, she made it clear that the other candidates will also get her attention.

D.C. Democratic State Committee Chairman Charles Wilson agreed.

“I haven’t selected a candidate yet,” Wilson said. “I want to see all of them on the stage together.”

Travis Nelson, a delegate from Oregon, said he hasn’t yet made up his mind but “the candidates have starting reaching out to me.”

Carol Burke of the U.S. Virgin Islands said it is “too early to tell” whom she will support.

“We have an abundance of qualified candidates,” Burke said. “The one I favor will get the breadth and depth that I can deliver.”

The DNC meeting takes place annually in D.C. and members of the committee come from all 50 states and the territories to decide the rules and bylaws of the party and its work plan for the year. The DNC serves as the governing body of the national Democratic Party.

Since 1936, African-American Democrats have played a role in the success of the party on the national, state and local level. All Democratic presidents since Franklin D. Roosevelt have gotten into office largely because of the Black vote and African Americans are often integral when the party wins chambers of the Congress.

In addition, Blacks have helped many Democratic gubernatorial and statewide candidates in states where there exists as a measurable African-American voting bloc.

The 2020 presidential cycle has already drawn numerous candidates, with more expected to join the race. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), an African American, also declared her intention to run last month.

The Rev. Leah Daughtry, who presided over the 2008 and 2016 Democratic National Committee presidential conventions, said she is still waiting until the full field takes shape.

“I want to see who will run and until then, I will make no commitment,” Daughtry said.

Some delegates said they won’t support a candidate during the primary season because of the position they hold.

“I am the chair of the LGBTQ caucus,” said Earl Fowlkes of the District. “Chairs of caucuses have been asked not to weigh in during the presidential primaries.”

During the meeting, Stacey Abrams, a Black female former state legislator who nearly won the Georgia gubernatorial race in 2018, delivered a speech that fired up her party members.

“I’m going to run for something — president … of my homeowner’s association,” she said, teasing the gathering of 300 delegates on Feb. 15.

Abrams said she brought millions of Georgians to the political process during her race for governor “and 1.2 million African Americans cast ballots for me.” She said that as a Democratic candidate in her state, she had the highest percentage of White voters since Bill Clinton won Georgia in 1992.

Abrams encouraged Democrats “to talk about voter suppression like we talk about the Kardashians” and work to put an end to it.

During the meeting of the DNC Black Caucus, former interim party Chair Donna Brazile urged African Americans to fight for their fair share of delegates to the national convention.

“As a member of the rules committee, we will see if state parties abide by the affirmative action rules,” Brazile said. “If your state violates these rules, we will send the delegation list back to be corrected.”

DNC officials assured that Black-owned media will play a major role in a presidential debate that will deal with African-American issues. Twelve presidential primary debates will take place, with six this year and six in 2020.

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