Friday, November 07, 2014

South Carolina Race- Second Time Two African-Americans Compete For US Senate Seat

Senator Tim Scott was appointed to the US Senate in December 2012 until the November 2014 election to fill the position after Jim DeMint resigned.  This week he was elected to finish the last two years of DeMint's original term. (So there were two US Senate races in South Carolina this year.) Scott, the first African-American to represent South Carolina in the US Senate, defeated Democrat Joyce Dickerson, also an African-American, to become the first elected African-American from South Carolina.  This got me thinking about whether there had been a US Senate race where two African-Americans were the candidates.  It turns out there was one before as people in Illinois will surely remember.

There have only been nine African-American US Senators, beginning with two from Mississippi - Hiram Rhodes Revels and Blanche Bruce.  Both were Republicans, the party of Lincoln. They were both appointed by the Mississippi State Legislature.  (US Senators were not directly elected by the voters until after the 17th Amendment was ratified in 1913.)

In 1966 Massachusetts Republican Edward Brooke became the first African-American to be elected to the Senate.

In 1992 Carol Moseley Braun, Democrat in Illinois, became the second to be elected to, and the first woman African-American in, the Senate.

In 2002 Democrat Barack Obama defeated Republican and also African-American Alan Keyes.  Yes, this was the first time two African-Americans ran for the US Senate against each other.

When Obama was elected President, another African-American, Roland Burris, was appointed to finish his term.

Then came the appointment of Tim Scott to replace DeMint followed by the appointment of Mo Cowan of Massachusetts to replace John Kerry when he was appointed Secretary of State.

Finally, Cory Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, was elected in a special election to fill the vacancy after Senator Frank R. Lautenberg's death.  Booker was reelected in this week's election.

So, a total of nine black US Senators.  Of those,
  • two were appointed by the Mississippi state legislature
  • three were appointed, one of those going on to get elected for another term (Scott)
  • four elected to office the first time
A sidenote to the unexpected Democratic loss of the Maryland governorship is that the Democratic candidate, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, is African-American.  You can get more on that story here.

The outlines of this post come from a Wikipedia List of African-Americans in The US Senate, which also puts these numbers into context:
"As of 2014, there have been 1,950 members of the United States Senate, but only nine have been African American."

That Wikipedia entry also had a strange side note of sorts about P.B.S. Pinckback titled:

"African Americans elected to the U.S. Senate, but not seated"
It doesn't say anything more about how that happened, but there are footnotes. 

Google turns up almost nothing on Pinchback.  A footnote in the Wikipedia piece leads to an essay on Black politicians and the post civil war South from the US House of Representatives History, Art, and Archives pages that probably offers the most meat.  Here's most of what they say about Pinchback:
"In a unique case of double contested elections, African-American Pinckney B. S. Pinchback of Louisiana was elected simultaneously to both the Senate and House. Pinchback lost the contested House seat and, citing claims of fraud in the state legislature, the Senate denied him his seat as well. Serving as provisional governor of Louisiana at the time, Pinchback signed his own election certifications."

 I suspect that Pinchback would make a great doctoral dissertation and/or book.

For people wondering how I got into this, I'm updating my older posts on Blacks in Congress to reflect this week's election.  This is one of the sidebars that's delaying posting that one. 

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