Maryland Democrat’s leaked email casts doubt over Black candidates’ electability

Doubts about the electability of Black candidates “should have no place in America in 2022”, a contender for the Democratic nomination for governor in Maryland said, after an email from a party official and donor expressing such doubt went public.

The email from Barbara Goldberg Goldman, deputy treasurer of the state Democratic party, was obtained by Axios. The news site noted the disparity between such doubts and Democratic reliance on Black voters in states across the US, not least in the election of Joe Biden as president.

In the email, which Axios said was written “to other party insiders”, Goldberg Goldman explained why she was backing Tom Perez, a former labor secretary and chairman of the Democratic National Committee, for the nomination for governor this year.

“So, my thinking beyond here is the age-old question,” Goldberg Goldman wrote. “Which candidate(s) have a better chance in the general election of beating an attractive female [Larry] Hogan team member for whom both [Democrats] and [Republicans] have expressed genuine likability?”

The possible Republican nominee referred to as a successor to Hogan, who has served two terms, is Kelly Schulz, currently state secretary for commerce.

“Consider this,” Goldberg Goldman wrote. “Three African American males have run statewide for governor and have lost. Maryland is not a blue state. It’s a purple one. This is a fact we must not ignore. In the last 20 years, only eight have been with a Democratic governor. We need a winning team. IMHO.”

A spokesperson for Wes Moore, an author and non-profit chief executive who is one of three Black candidates for the nomination, said: “The idea that there would be skepticism about a candidate’s electability because they are Black should have no place in the Democratic party in Maryland – a state with both incredible diversity and disparities – or anywhere else in America in 2022.”

John King, US education secretary under Barack Obama, is also running. He told Axios he had heard similar sentiments to those expressed by Goldberg Goldman.

“In Maryland,” he said, “we have a very diverse state and a diverse electorate, so we are well-positioned to have our first African American governor. Having served in the administration of our first Black president, one would have hoped we’d be further along in these conversations.”

The other Black candidate for the nomination, former county executive Rushern Baker, said: “While I don’t agree, it’s a fair criticism, understanding we haven’t seen it happen yet … Although those candidates didn’t win, it’s not impossible. They just weren’t the right candidates at the right time.”

A Perez spokesperson said: “These hurtful and ill-conceived comments do not reflect the values of our campaign – as evidenced by Tom’s entire career to advance civil rights and expand opportunity.”

Axios said: “Past performance is a valid index to use when considering future successes. The invocation of race as a determining factor, though, takes the discussion beyond pure politics.”

Goldberg Goldman said: “I regret making the statement. It neither accurately expresses nor depicts my views, and does not represent my lifelong commitment to supporting Democratic causes and candidates.”

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