Hidden below the headlines of raging red and fading blue Tuesday night was a bit of history-making in the Black political world. In Florida, Republican Rick Scott’s victory over State Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink means that the Sunshine State will have its first Black female Lt. Gov., state Rep. and NFL-mom Jennifer Carroll. That historic first comes despite Floridian voters’ lack of support for Rep. Kendrick Meek (D), who months ago was considered a strong contender to be the state’s first Black U.S. Senator. The Miami Herald reports:
In a year when Republicans slaughtered Democrats in Cabinet and congressional races, Scott’s razor-thin margin reflected a level of distrust among voters who were bombarded with mailers and television ads that featured the record Medicare-fraud fine that his former hospital company paid.
Scott is reported to have spent $73 million of his own personal fortune.
And, in Massachusetts, incumbent Gov. Deval Patrick now becomes the first elected Black Governor to win a second term. Reports Frank Phillips and Michael Levenson in the Boston Globe:
Patrick overcame a devastating recession and a high unemployment rate to convince voters that he was best equipped to lead the state toward economic recovery. His triumph was the cornerstone of a Democratic rout that set the state apart from the rest of the nation, which saw major Republican gains.
The state GOP, with its hopes raised of becoming a bigger force, failed to win a single one of the 10 congressional seats or any statewide offices, including open seats for state treasurer and state auditor.
With 96 percent of precincts reporting, Patrick had 48.8 percent of the vote to Baker’s 41.7 percent. In his victory party at the Park Plaza in Boston, Patrick took the stage to cries of “Four more years!’’
“Well that’s exactly what we worked for, isn’t it?’’ he said to cheers, surrounded by his family.
Carroll’s win could help the GOP in a number of ways. First, it’s another win for the embattled Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, who can now tout the successful recruitment of winning Black Republicans in key statewide and multiple Congressional seats when he faces re-election at the RNC Winter Meeting in January. Additionally, with a record number of minorities winning major seats on Tuesday night, the GOP may begin to use that to reverse the popular perception of it as an anti-minority or “racist” party.
Patrick’s re-election definitely helps President Obama, as both have been close political allies and friends for some time. A Patrick loss would have been devastating, not only to the White House, but yet another blow in what was once seen as a reliable blue state until the election of Republican Scott Brown last year. It also sets Patrick up as a potential name to watch in future Presidential bids in 2016 and beyond. His political star is rising – along with a number of other minority political rock stars on both sides of the partisan aisle.