Commentary: A record number of black Republicans are running for Congress

The National Republican Congressional Committee reports that more than 80 black candidates are running in GOP primaries this year, the most in history.

George Senate candidate Herschel Walker (Shutterstock)

The bulk of primary elections occur in the coming weeks. While much of the media is consumed with how much influence Donald Trump maintains in the Republican Party — presumably measured by how well candidates receiving the former president’s endorsement fare — these primaries are worth following to see whether demographic shifts from the 2020 elections continue in 2022.

The National Republican Congressional Committee reports that more than 80 black candidates are running in GOP primaries this year, the most in history. In the past century, there have only been 10 black Republican U.S. representatives and two black Republican U.S. senators.

Of those 10 black congressional Republicans since 1920, six took office after 2010.

Despite my personal reservations about populism, I believe black Republican candidates benefit from populist movements — whether it’s the Tea Party or America Firstism.

“Black candidates, along with other minorities, often grab hold of emotional movements, more than white candidates,” a black Republican in Illinois told Alpha News last week. “This improves their chances of winning the primary when the most dedicated voters tend to come out.”

In the end, winning matters, and will that aid the prodigious number of black Republicans running this year against a very unpopular Democrat Party?

Some primaries took place last month in Texas, where a black Republican contended for governor and another for a new congressional district.

Lt. Col. Allen West, the former Florida representative and chair of the Texas GOP, was trounced by incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. West lost by more than 50 points and garnered only 12% of the primary vote.

But Wesley Hunt, a West Point graduate in his 40s, won his primary by 25 points in a Republican-leaning district northwest of Houston. While West was a polarizing populist challenging a two-term governor, the disciplined Hunt followed the party line and was endorsed by Trump and Leader Kevin McCarthy.

There are too many black Republicans to enumerate, including in Minnesota, where Cicely Davis and former professional basketball player Royce White seek to take on radical Rep. Ilhan Omar in the left-leaning Fifth Congressional District. At the state level, military veteran and business owner Kendall Qualls is in a crowded gubernatorial field. The state convention begins May 13, with a primary in early August.

Another military veteran, John James, is on the ballot in Michigan. After failing in close U.S. Senate races during 2018 and 2020, James now seeks a House seat in a swing district that’s only 2% black. While the primary is in August, the party endorsement convention took place last weekend.

Down in Georgia, West Point graduate and former intelligence officer Jeremy Hunt is running in the left-leaning, minority-majority Second District. He’d be more than 40 years younger than his incumbent Democrat opponent.

And perhaps most notably, former pro football star Herschel Walker currently is the Republican frontrunner for a Senate seat that the party infamously lost 16 months ago in the Peach State. Two of Walker’s primary opponents also are black. While Trump has backed Walker, name recognition also helps. Georgia’s primaries are May 24.

Considering the amount of candidates this fall — and the abject failure of Democrats since January 2020 — it is likely there will be more black Republicans in the next Congress. And should Florida Rep. Byron Donalds, Utah Rep. Burgess Owens, and South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott win re-election in November, it will only take two black Republicans to make it the largest group in history.