Tuesday’s elections gave black candidates a number of historic victories

‎Times staff report

Vi Lyles was elected first-ever female African-American mayor of Charlotte.(Philadelphia Tribune)

Democrats scored several election firsts on Tuesday night and party officials credit the African-American electorate with playing a role.

In New Jersey, voters elected their first female African-American lieutenant governor in Sheila Oliver. In Charlotte,  N.C., voters elected their first-ever African-American mayor in Vi Lyles. In Virginia, Lt. Governor-elect Justin Fairfax became only the second African American elected to statewide office.

“Without a shadow of a doubt, investing in communities of color was central to November 7th’s tide-turning victories,” said Amanda Brown Lierman, Political and Organizing director at the Democratic National Committee.

Also in Virginia, over 90 percent of black women cast ballots for Democrat Governor Ralph Northam who defeated Republican Ed Gillespie.

“With their ballots, African-American communities across the nation sent a loud, resounding message to Republicans who stand with Donald Trump and try to use his hateful rhetoric as a vehicle for political success—you do not represent us,” said Lierman.

Focusing on the black vote was key in the Virginia governor’s race, Lierman said.

“In Virginia, 100 percent of our investments went into doubling the number of organizers and putting boots in the ground,” she said. “Since last summer, we’ve been committed to spending on a mail program that targets and reaches out to black communities.

“We know that when we invest in the core of our party, we win. That’s why we invested in a black women’s mobilization program, InCharge,” Lierman said. “Yesterday [Tuesday] in Virginia, over 90 percent of black women cast ballots for Governor Ralph Northam. These women are the reason we won last night’s elections, and they’re the reason we’ll win in 2018.”

Voter engagement will be key in the midterms and next presidential election, Lierman said.

“Undoubtedly a cornerstone of our party, black voters continued to surge to the polls in a tremendous way, set the tone for future elections, and paved the way for government that truly represents them,” Lierman said. “That’s exactly why we will continue to engage black communities across the nation and fight to ensure every single eligible voter has the power to exercise their franchise.”

Black Democratic victories on Tuesday included:

  • Justin Fairfax, Virginia lieutenant governor-elect, second-ever African American elected to statewide office in Virginia
  • Sheila Oliver, New Jersey lieutenant governor-elect, first-ever female African-American lieutenant governor of New Jersey
  • Andrea Jenkins, Minneapolis City Council, first-ever openly transgender African-American woman elected to U.S. public office
  • Vi Lyles, Charlotte, North Carolina mayor-elect, first-ever female African-American mayor of Charlotte
  • Yvonne Spicer, Framingham, Massachusetts mayor-elect, first-ever mayor of the new city of Framingham
  • Wilmot Collins, Helena, Montana mayor-elect, first-ever African-American mayor in Montana
  • Melvin Carter, St. Paul, Minnesota mayor-elect, first-ever African-American mayor of St. Paul
  • Jonathan McCollar, Statesboro, Georgia mayor-elect, first-ever African-American mayor of Statesboro
  • Brendon Barber, Georgetown, South Carolina mayor-elect, first-ever African-American mayor of Georgetown
  • Mary Parham Copelan, Milledgeville, Georgia mayor-elect, first-ever female African-American mayor of Milledgeville
  • Booker Gainor, Cairo, Georgia mayor-elect, first-ever African-American mayor of Cairo