US Senate candidates Beasley and Booker make history with primary election wins

Cheri Beasley became the first African American woman nominee in North Carolina and Charles Booker became the first African American nominee in Kentucky.

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U.S. Senate candidates Cheri Beasley and Charles Booker came out victorious on Tuesday in their Democratic primary contests in North Carolina and Kentucky. The two historic candidates will go on to the general election in November.

Charles Booker, Cheri Beasley
U.S. Senate candidates Charles Booker (Kentucky) and Cheri Beasley (North Carolina). (Photo: Charles Booker for U.S. Senate, Cheri Beasley for North Carolina)

Cheri Beasley beat out a crowded Democratic primary in North Carolina to become the party’s nominee for U.S. Senate. If successful in November’s general election, the former chief justice for the North Carolina Supreme Court would become the first Black senator from the Tar Heel State. 

Beasley’s election would also fill a current void after Vice President Kamala Harris’ departure left the Senate without a Black woman represented in its body. 

In a previous interview with theGrio, Beasley said she believed her candidacy offers “the best opportunity to expand the majority in the Senate.” 

“I hope that people – not just in North Carolina, but across this country – really appreciate the magnitude of this election,” said Beasley. 

In a statement provided to theGrio, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Sen. Gary Peters applauded Beasley’s “groundbreaking candidacy.” Peters said that Beasley would bring “the values of hard work, integrity, and justice” to the Senate.

Cheri Beasley
North Carolina Democratic Senate candidate Cheri Beasley, second from right, visits with voters outside a polling location on May 17, 2022 in Troy, North Carolina. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

The DSCC leader added: “While the Republicans in this race have spent their time and dollars tarnishing each other with brutal attacks, Cheri is laser-focused on the issues that matter most to working families in her state – and that’s exactly why voters will elect her in November.”

In Kentucky, U.S. Senate candidate Charles Booker clinched the win with more than 70 percent of the vote. Both he and Beasley made history on Tuesday. Booker became the first African American to be nominated by the Democratic Party for a U.S. Senate seat in Kentucky. Beasley became the first African American woman nominee in North Carolina. 

Booker, a former Kentucky state representative, will go up against Republican U.S. Sen. Rand Paul in November. He first ran for Senate in the 2020 primary election but failed to clinch the Democratic nomination in his quest to unseat long-serving Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell. 

After being declared the winner of Tuesday’s Kentucky contest, Booker tweeted, “I am the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate in Kentucky. In November, we will make history by defeating Rand Paul and expanding our Senate majority.”

During Kentucky’s racial justice protests in 2020 following the Louisville police killing of Breonna Taylor, Booker joined demonstrators to call for justice. He also co-sponsored Breonna’s Law, which would ban no-knock warrants statewide and require body cameras to be worn by law enforcement.

State Rep. Charles Booker advocates for the passage of Kentucky HB-12 on the floor of the House of Representatives in the State Capitol in Frankfort, Ky. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston, File)

The nominations of Beasley and Booker are not only historic, but chart what Democrats hope will be a path to victory in the general election and expand the party’s slim majority in the U.S. Senate. The evenly divided 50-50 chamber – with Vice President Harris serving as the tie-breaking vote – has prevented Democrats from passing key legislative priorities like President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda, voting rights reform and police reform

In a previous interview with theGrio, Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison emphasized that in order for Democrats to accomplish more in Washington, the party needs more votes in the Senate.

“We need more votes in the United States Senate in order to get around the filibuster, which Republicans have utilized so much the block a lot of the progress that the administration and the president wants to make,” Harrison told theGrio.

“We cannot allow them to take control of the House in the Senate because our democracy will be threatened in the end.”

However, not all Black candidates seeking higher office in Tuesday’s primary elections came out victorious. Malcolm Kenyatta, who sought to become Pennsylvania’s first Black and the nation’s first openly gay U.S. Senator, came up short in his primary contest against Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and U.S. Rep. Conor Lamb. Fetterman, a frontrunner, ultimately won the party’s nomination.

Pennsylvania State House Rep. Malcolm Kenyatta, who is running for U.S. Senate. (Photo: Pennsylvania House)

In the days leading up to the primary vote, Kenyatta told theGrio that he hopes his historic campaign would break “misconceptions about who is a viable candidate [and] what an electable candidate looks like.”

“I think Black folks are better, and we’re worth more than just a vote for the least worst white male millionaire. We can actually be in those positions ourselves,” he told theGrio.

However, Kenyatta did make history as the first openly gay man to be on a ballot for U.S. Senate and only the second African American to seek the Democratic nomination in the state of Pennsylvania.

Check polls and news coverage to stay up to date on the 2022 US Senate Midterm Elections.

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