Black Republicans break barriers

Mia Love and Tim Scott

Mia Love and Tim Scott

(Thegrio.com) — As the GOP made historic gains on Tuesday night, three Black Republicans made history.

Utah’s Mia Love became the first Black female member of the GOP to ever be elected to Congress and the first person of color ever to represent the state. Tim Scott became the first Black candidate to be elected to statewide office since Reconstruction and the first ever Black senator elected in South Carolina. And House candidate Will Hurd became the first Black Republican elected in Texas since Reconstruction.

The three Republicans will be the only African Americans in their party on Capitol Hill and their elections will bolster their party’s diversity and potentially their credibility among Black voters going into 2016. After being trounced by Democrats with Black and Latino voters in the last two presidential elections, the GOP has made a concerted effort to recruit, elect, and appeal to more minorities. For instance, potential 2016 candidate Sen. Rand Paul has eagerly began courting Black voters, visiting voters in Ferguson, Missouri in the wake of the Michael Brown shooting and other historically Black communities.

Last election season, Love was only narrowly defeated by the incumbent, Democratic Rep. Jim Mattheson, by less than 800 votes total. Despite her loss, she was an instant hit with the Republican party. She even gave a speech at the Republican National Convention. This time around, Love won a seat at the House, making her the first Black Republican woman in Congress, but also the first ever Haitian American ever in Congress.

In Utah, Love, 38, the daughter of Haitian immigrants, won 50% of the vote. There is not yet any data on the racial make-up of Love’s voters. Three new African American women candidates were also voted into the House of Representatives as Democrats. North Carolina’s Alma Adams (the first woman to represent that district), Michigan’s Brenda Lawrence (the first woman of color to represent that district) and New Jersey’s Bonnie Watson Coleman (the first woman of color to represent that state) will join 15 other Black, Democratic women. New Jersey also elected former Newark mayor Cory Booker, a Black Democrat, to a full term as a U.S. senator on Tuesday.

Scott was already in the Senate when he ran this year, but he hadn’t been elected. Gov. Nikki Haley appointed him after Sen. Jim DeMint resigned in November 2012, so this year’s race against Democratic challenger Joyce Dickerson was about finishing out the rest of DeMint’s six-year term. Scott will have to run for re-election in 2016 to earn a full six-year term himself. But he has already made history nonetheless . His win marks the first time an African American has been elected in the South to the Senate since Reconstruction. The win also makes him the first ever African American to serve in both the House and Senate.

“I think it speaks volumes for South Carolina and the progress we have made in the state,” Scott said about his victory.

These two historic wins are surely steps forward in the legacy of our national elections. That’s definitely something to celebrate no matter your party affiliations.