An email from Barbara Goldberg Goldman, a longtime Democratic party donor, questioned whether Black candidates can run for office and win. Her comments have received backlash from other Democrats but also trigger a larger conversation around bringing more Black people into office, per an Axios report.
The email, obtained by Axios, reads:
“So, my thinking beyond here is the age-old questions: Which candidate(s) have a better chance in the General election of beating an attractive female Hogan team member for whom both Dems and Repubs have expressed genuine likeability? Consider this: Three African-American males have run statewide for Governor and have lost. Maryland is not a Blue state. It’s a purple one. This is a fact we must not ignore. In the last 20 years, only eight have been with a Democratic Governor. We need a winning team. IMHO.”
Axios reported at the moment there are Black candidates running for office in Illinois, Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Wisconsin with 57 House seats being held currently. Yet, when Black candidates are running, the skepticism of electability comes from donors and state party leaders. This checks out with Barbara’s email.
The Black Democratic candidates running for Maryland governor responded to her message.
“The idea that there would be skepticism about a candidate’s electability because they are Black should have no place in the Democratic Party in Maryland — a state with both incredible diversity and disparities — or anywhere else in America in 2022,” said a spokesperson for the Wes Moore campaign.
Moore, the former CEO of the anti-poverty nonprofit Robin Hood Foundation, is also running for Maryland governor in the 10-person primary.
A second candidate running for governor, John King, said he’s witnessed the doubt of Black electability first-hand. “Oh, well, if there are multiple candidates of color, then it’s impossible for one of them to win. Certainly, people have made that remark to me,” said King via Axios.
In addition to King’s comment, Rushern Baker, the third Black Democrat running for governor, said while he doesn’t agree with the email, “it’s fair criticism understanding we haven’t seen it happen yet.” He also said because they didn’t win doesn’t mean it’s not possible for them to.
Goldman has since apologized for her email. “I regret making the statement. It neither accurately expresses nor depicts my views, and does not represent my lifelong commitment to supporting Democratic causes and candidates,” she told Axios.
Per Axios’ report, Black candidates across the country have been outperforming fundraising expectations and succeeded in their primaries. Black electability is not a matter of whether we are qualified but instead a matter of how we conquer the systematic challenges in place to keep us out of office.