More than 50 Black women seeking statewide office in midterms; 6 running for governorships 

"We've been able to do a lot with a little," said Iowa gubernatorial candidate Deidre DeJear, "and I think folks are accustomed to seeing women of color and women doing that."

This is a historic year for a variety of reasons, and one of them is that in 2022, more than 50 Black women are seeking statewide offices in the United States, with several in the running for governorships. 

According to CNN, a record 53 Black women filed to run for statewide office across America.

Candidate for Iowa governor Deidre DeJear speaks during a March meet and greet event at the Hotel Pattee in Perry, Iowa. (Photo: Allison Ullmann/The Perry Chief/USA TODAY NETWORK)

Former Oklahoma state Sen. Connie Johnson faced Joy Hofmeister, the state’s superintendent of public instruction and a former Republican, in Tuesday’s Democratic gubernatorial primary. Hofmeister emerged victorious. Tuesday in Illinois, Beverly Miles was defeated by incumbent Governor J.B. Pritzker in its Democratic primary. 

In Iowa, Deidre DeJear is its Democratic gubernatorial nominee, and Yolanda Flowers is the Democratic hopeful in Alabama. Democrat Dr. Carnita Atwater and Independent Constance Every are running for governor in Tennessee, and Independent Deirdre Gilbert is seeking the top job in Texas. Former state representative Stacey Abrams, in Georgia, is aiming to replace Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in November.

“We’ve been able to do a lot with a little, and I think folks are accustomed to seeing women of color and women doing that, doing a lot with a little,” DeJear told CNN. In a filing earlier this month, her campaign reported $419,000 in the bank — a haul dwarfed by Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds’ $4.8 million. “But if we don’t have to stretch ourselves that thin by having a fully resourced campaign, the sky’s the limit.”

CNN notes that the Center for American Women in Politics at Rutgers University (CAWP) says there are also 145 Black women who have filed or indicated that they will run for Congress, a record after 130 Black women filed to run in the 2020 election.

“I am proud to be a Black woman whose experiences and whose qualifications and whose efforts can result in me becoming the governor of Georgia. It matters what we see,” Stacey Abrams told CNN on the campaign trail earlier this spring. “I grew up in a community where I did not see people who looked like me who are expected to be governor or mayor or the CEO of a company. My responsibility is to declare what is possible, but my obligation is to work to make it so.” 

This year marks Abrams’s second run for the governorship. She narrowly lost to Kemp in 2018 amid widely reported claims of voter suppression. 

While the news that more Black women running for office is positive, CNN notes that many are running as Democrats in red states. Further, many are facing massive fundraising disadvantages. Abrams, however, who has high national visibility, has raised more than $20 million during her current campaign. 

“When you look at any study around candidates and all that, it is, whether you are an incumbent, as a Black woman or other woman of color, it’s still harder for them to get the resources,” Melanie Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation, told CNN. “So, it’s a systemic problem that we are facing but … in some places, I think there is a potential for it to get better because the more that we run, the more that we push, the more that we crack those barriers, it will show us we can move and make more progress.”

TheGrio is FREE on your TV via Apple TV, Amazon Fire, Roku, and Android TV. Please download theGrio mobile apps today!