Cheri Beasley is well aware of the challenges facing Black women who run for statewide office.
“I know what it’s like to hear the doubters and those who are skeptical that people of color can’t win, because it’s not what we’re used to or who we envision in positions of power,” she said in an interview with NBC News.
The former judge has made two successful runs for statewide judicial positions, and this year she is running for North Carolina’s open Senate seat, joining a cohort of Black women looking to make history.
Black women’s representation has steadily increased in Congress and state legislatures, but they have still struggled to win statewide races. No Black woman has ever been elected governor, and there are no Black women serving in the U.S. Senate after Kamala Harris vacated her seat to become vice president.
That could change this year.
Beasley is one of three Black women — all Democrats — who have established themselves as early front-runners in statewide primaries, including Stacey Abrams, who is making another bid for Georgia governor, and U.S. Rep. Val Demings, who is challenging Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.
Five Black women are running for governor, just shy of the 2018 record of six. Between 16 and 20 Black women are currently, or considered potential, Senate candidates, which would break the record of 13 Black women Senate candidates set in 2020, according to the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University.
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SOURCE: NBC News, Bridget Bowman