In 2018, the governorship elections were won by two black Democrats. Andrew Gillum, a Florida Governor candidate was running against Stacey Abrams for Georgia Governor. At the same time, Beto O’Rourke was running against Ted Cruz for U.S. Senate in Texas.
Abrams, Gillum were both black candidates for states where Democrats are likely to win. O’Rourke was a white candidate running a longshot race in a deep red state. Despite this, the media gave an incredible amount of coverage to O’Rourke, so much so that he was able to pull in a lot of donations from across the country and came very close to winning.
But Abrams and Gillum received but a fraction of that coverage and it could be argued that, had they gotten the level of coverage O’Rourke got, they could have won their states. But the media picked a favorite – the Kennedy-esque white guy from Texas.
Gillum and Abrams lost and have not fully recovered. Gillum got in trouble in a hotel in Florida and Abrams unsuccessfully tried to run for Biden’s Vice President. Although the former won’t have another job in politics, the media are trying to help the latter with her second attempt for the governorship.
A large reason for Abrams’ sudden rise in the media is white guilt. These major news outlets recognize that they spent all their time on a lost cause in O’Rourke when Georgia and Florida were much more winnable. That is what they are working to rectify.
Louisiana is experiencing a similar scenario.
U.S. The state’s Senator John Kennedy enjoys a lot of popularity. At the touch of a button, he can share one of his memorable soundbites or raise money. His seat is not at risk, particularly in 2022 where Democrats are expected to be unpopular and perform poorly.
But, that isn’t stopping two Democrats from trying.
The first is Gary Chambers, a black Democrat who is openly progressive and has supported Bernie Sanders and seeks to represent the “working class.” He ran for Congress recently and came in a close third, almost making the runoff. His campaign experience is more extensive and he’s very charismatic.
The second is Luke Mixon, a white Democrat from central Louisiana who is being billed by some in Louisiana as a “moderate” or “centrist” Democrat in the same way Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards billed himself in 2015 when he ran and won. Mixon was an American Naval Academy graduate and served as fighter pilot.
Mixon’s candidacy got a glowing announcement from The AdvocateBaton Rogue. You’d be hard-pressed to find coverage of Chambers in The AdvocateOder its sister publication The Times-Picayune that isn’t coupled with coverage of Mixon.
In fact, the biggest names in Democratic politics in the state of Louisiana – like the current governor – all have former aides helping out Mixon’s campaign. They support Mixon’s successes. Chambers is receiving little support from the state’s Democratic Party.
Of the state’s 1,208,461 registered Democrats in Louisiana, 723,297 of them (roughly 60 percent) are African-American voters. However, their party is unable to support a black candidate in order to unify. A white lawyer from the trial picks a white, straight-cut man to tell black voters that they will vote with him.
They usually get what they want. But there is a lot of whispering behind the scenes that the state’s black elected officials want better seats at the party’s table. They don’t like having to answer for white party leaders. The black vote has the potential to unseat them, but they have yet to get a candidate who can win and who poses a significant enough challenge to the party’s leadership.
As a progressive, Chambers won’t fit the bill on electability for most of the state. It’s far too conservative. There are places in the state that he could do well during a general election. Plus, he has the ability to convince black voters that he is capable of winning over some parts of the state and preventing Mixon’s exit.
Mixon’s position is an untenable one. In the very hypothetical event he were to win, he is going to have to be a real, Manchin-like centrist in the U.S. Senate, which means he’ll never progress in the national Democratic Party because they’ll openly at war with guys like Manchin. If he goes full progressive, that means he’ll be voted out almost immediately when re-election rolls around.
Chambers is a Raphael Warnock progressive Democrat. This will make him a difficult candidate. That can win at least once in Georgia, but will be harder and harder to maintain over the course of a few election cycles if the Democratic Party can’t get its act together. However, far-left progressive politics in Louisiana play a smaller role than Georgia’s and Chambers won’t be winning a Senate race.
However, the problem isn’t in 2022’s Senate race. It’s the gubernatorial race of 2023. Edwards will need a successor. He won’t pick Chambers, because he thinks (probably rightly) that his politics can’t win. But his people have found a guy like Mixon who can position himself the same way Edwards did in 2015 and make a solid run as Edwards’ successor.
The state’s media outlets will buy that pitch hook, line and sinker. In the hope that Mixon will build up some ground so that next year he can challenge any Republicans’ plans, they will press Mixon.
However, you’re leaving almost 750,000 black Democrats with very little true representation, because the same white trial lawyers that wanted Edwards now want Mixon. Edwards has tried several times to persuade the black caucus members of the state legislature to vote for him, regardless of their reservations. I’m not sure how much longer that will be the case when the demographics pretty clearly show they can get their way if they get their voters out.
And in a time when Democrats aren’t popular and voters will swing more toward Republicans, Democrats will need all the votes they can get, and they’ll need guys like Chambers and the black legislative caucus on their side. They’ll have to cave, despite theirs and the media’s best efforts.