Black Iowa candidates poised to make history amid messy midterms, racist ads

The end of racist, irksome midterm election ads is nigh.

Editor's Note: Have you seen the Black Iowa Voting Guide? Check it out.

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Iowa could make history during the midterm elections on Tuesday by electing the first Black woman, Deidre DeJear (D), as governor of the state. If she wins, she'd also become the first Black woman governor in the country, but DeJear faces a tough opponent in Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds. DeJear is one of five Black gubernatorial candidates in the U.S., which include Stacey Abrams (D) Georgia; Chris Jones (D) Arkansas; Yolanda Flowers (D) Alabama and Wes Moore (D) Maryland.

Deidre DeJear, candidate for Iowa governor. Photo courtesy of DeJear.

Blacks across the country are also running for lieutenant governor positions: Angela Underwood Jacobs (R) in California and Austin Davis (D) in Pennsylvania.

Iowa has only had one Black senator, Thomas Mann Jr. On Tuesday, three Blacks will battle for the position of senator in two districts: ToyA Johnson, Libertarian, and Izaah Knox, Democrat, in Senate District 17 and Dr. Mary Kathleen Figaro in Senate District 47.

Bitter politics and negative and racist ads have dominated the Iowa political scene for months. Critics have condemned Reynolds ads — first for using racist tropes against her opponent, DeJear, the first Black woman in Iowa to be nominated by a major party. Reynolds’ latest ad has also drawn condemnation.

“Here in Iowa, we know right from wrong, boys from girls,” said Reynolds, who earlier this year signed a law banning trans girls from participating in girls sports. Then, she added: “Here in Iowa, we may get up early, but we’re not woke” — slamming so-called woke culture.

Tense political battles have erupted recently over access to abortions, health care, critical race theory, the handling of the coronavirus pandemic, government spending and police accountability. Voters will cast their ballots on Nov. 8 — mindful of these concerns. The midterm elections have also occurred amid Republican-led voter restrictions.

  • Iowa slashed access to early voting from 29 days to 20
  • Passage of voter ID law
  • Polls will close at 8 p.m. instead of 9 p.m.
  • To count, ballots must arrive by 8 p.m. on Election Day, instead of the following Monday
  • County auditors can’t send out absentee ballot request forms; voters must first request it. Stricter rules also surround who can return absentee ballots
  • Election officials also face increased sanctions for election misconduct

Democrats have decried the changes as voter suppression, while Republicans have praised the changes as strengthening election integrity.

Embittered former President Donald Trump, who spread disinformation about election fraud and election theft, will hold a rally in Iowa on Nov. 3, to stump for Reynolds and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley — adding to the election circus.

What's your plan to vote on Nov. 8?

Photo by Black Iowa News

Check out Black Iowa News Founder Dana James on a new podcast with Lya Williams.

Would you like to be a guest on Being Heard: 2 Black Women, Coffee & Conversations? Email: lya@2blkpodcast.com.

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