It’s Election Day In 35 States Across The Country. Here’s What You Should Know.
Photo by Jessica McGowan/Getty Images

Voters in 35 states head to the polls today, Tuesday, November 2 for Election Day.

While many eyes are on New York’s mayoral race and Virginia’s gubernatorial election— where Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin face off— Black women are also running for top offices nationwide, according to Higher Heights and CAWP’s Election Watch.

Races to watch among Black women and men, as well as candidates of color, range from assistant governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia, to Congressional elections in Florida and Ohio, to Atlanta’s mayoral election, and judicial races, to name a few.

Meanwhile, voters in Minneapolis, Minnesota— where George Floyd was killed by convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin in 2020— will consider a ballot measure that seeks to replace its police department with a Department of Public Safety.

“We need to make sure that we are encouraging our family and friends to vote in all elections,” said Virgie M. Rollins, chairwoman of the DNC Black Caucus, in a statement. “These elections are important and their outcome can move our communities forward or set us back for generations.”

Paris Dennard, national spokesperson and director of Black Media Affairs for the RNC told ESSENCE in a statement that “all eyes are on Virginia.” He said Republican candidate Winsome Sears has a “real shot” at becoming the state’s first Black female Lieutenant Governor.

Higher Heights, which works to elect Black women candidates nationwide, has endorsed multiple Black and BIPOC women candidates, including Hala Ayala for Lt. Gov of Virginia, Shontel Brown for Congress (OH-11), Felicia Moore for Mayor of Atlanta, India Walton for Mayor of Buffalo, and Elaine O’Neal for Mayor of Durham.

The organization has dubbed Florida’s Congressional District 20 as a “Race to Watch” between Barbara Sharief and Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick. Both Black women, they are competing for the late Alcee Hastings’ seat. Next week, LaToya Cantrell is up for re-election for mayor of New Orleans.

Emily’s List, the nation’s largest resource for women political candidates, recently named a Black woman, Laphonza Butler, as its president. A spokeswoman told ESSENCE they have made endorsements around the country ranging from Virginia to Iowa. “Hala Ayala was the first Afro-Latina elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017. If elected, she would be the first woman and first Afro-Latina lieutenant governor of Virginia,” said Tonya Williams. In Iowa, Emily’s List is endorsing Amara Andrews for Cedar Rapids mayor. In Massachusetts, Yvonne Spicer for Framingham mayor. And in New Hampshire: Shoshanna Kelly for Nashua’s Alderwoman at-large, to name a few.

The Collective PAC— the nation’s largest political action committee dedicated to increasing Black political representation across all levels of government— has endorsed 78 candidates nationwide. Co-founders Stefanie Brown James and Quentin James released the following statement:

“The years between Presidential and Midterm Elections are often referred to as “off years”; but we know there are no days off when it comes to supporting Black candidates and exercising our right to vote at the polls,” the couple said. “Our roster of candidates this year are running for office in local, state and federal elections. As an organization working to change the face of power by closing the representation gap in Black elected leadership at all levels of government, we are proud to have endorsed a slate of dedicated and experienced leaders across the country.”

Among their endorsed mayoral candidates are: Aigné Goldsby – Cromwell, CT; Dawn Bennett – Kent, WA; Sharetta Smith – Lima, OH; Shayla Davis – Garfield Heights, OH; Tawnya Morris – Southfield, MI; Tameika Isaac Devine – Columbia, SC; and Victoria Woodard – Tacoma, WA.

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Some of their judicial candidates include: Lori Dumas – Commonwealth Court (PA); Maraleen Shields – Court of Common Pleas Judge, Lehigh County (PA); and Tinu Moss – Court of Common Pleas Judge, Delaware Country (PA).

Here are other races happening around the country:

New Jersey

Sheila Oliver, a Democrat, is the incumbent lieutenant governor and one of the few Black women to have held this role nationwide; she is competing against former state Senator Diane Allen (R) in New Jersey.

Florida Special Primary Election

Three women– Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Barbara Sharief, and Priscilla Taylor– are running in the special Democratic primary for Florida’s 20th congressional district. All three women identify as Black, according to CAWP. The general election for this heavily-Democratic district will be held on January 11, 2022.

Ohio Special Elections

Two women, Shontel Brown (D) and Laverne Gore (R), are running in the special election for Ohio’s 11th congressional district. This seat was vacated by Marcia Fudge when she left Congress to join the Biden Cabinet as secretary of Housing and Urban Development; the district is solidly Democratic. Both of these candidates identify as Black.

Atlanta

Some 14 candidates— including multiple Black women and men— are vying for the office of Mayor. Current ATL mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms announced earlier this year she would not seek a second term. If no candidate receives more than 50 percent of the vote, a run-off election will be held later this month.

New York City

Eric Adams, the Democratic nominee, is a former police captain. If elected, he would be only the second Black mayor in the history of New York City. He faces Republican nominee, Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels patrol.