3 African-Americans running for governor in 3 states

Reginald Stuart | 9/6/2018, 6:01 a.m.
President Trump has angered and mobilized voters across the nation to the point that many have been challenged to turn ...

All three gubernatorial candidates have plugged into the national network of African-American sororities, fraternities and other civic and social organizations to raise money for campaigns that could land them in the history books of their states.

Former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, who in November 1989 became the first elected African-American governor in the nation, could not be reached to discuss the three new candidates. But political scientists who have followed Mr. Wilder’s career and public service offered some comparisons.

Mr. Wilder, a longtime state senator who was elected Virginia’s lieutenant governor in 1985, was a seasoned politician who learned and earned political footing with years of public service, political scientists said. The record of service and his high profile in the state’s capital city made him easier to accept as the state’s leader, they said. Before his bid for governor, he had proven leadership skills and was a fiscal conservative, much like his Republican predecessors, analysts said.

Also, the political climate in Virginia was more tolerant then than it is today, they said, attributing the souring climate to President Trump.

“The younger generation of blacks are beginning to percolate,” said historian Alvin Thornell, a veteran political scientist who spent decades at Howard University. “The older whites have become inactive as illustrated in the recent political contests in New York and Massachusetts. They just were aging and dropping out.”

The Democratic effort this election season will hinge on “New Deal” Democrats returning to the ranks as they did in the 1960, and the candidates’ and party’s success in recruiting and getting new voters to the polls, Dr. Thornell and other analysts said.

They estimated nearly one-third of traditional Democrats have become conservative Republicans or dropped from political participation. This loss must be made up with new registration and participation efforts, like that launched in Georgia by Ms. Abrams.

“All of these candidates see whites as part of their coalition,” said Dr. Gillespie, noting that Democrats need to build from the ancestors of traditional Democrats, continue courting Latino voters and register and get to the polls people who have not voted in the past.

For Republicans, the formula is to keep the Trump wire sparked, they said.

For sure, analysts said, Republicans are loading up for a political rhetoric battle.