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Schumer Regrets Backing Horny White Dude Over Qualified Black Woman

Cunningham challenger blasted Democratic establishment for 'elevating moderates at the expense of progressive people of color'

• December 1, 2020 1:50 pm

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) regrets his decision to crush the dreams of a qualified black woman by endorsing failed candidate and horny white dude Cal Cunningham for Senate in North Carolina.

Cunningham, who lost a tight race to Sen. Thom Tillis (R., N.C.) after his extramarital affair came to light one month before the election, was Schumer's preferred choice to be the party's nominee.

On a recent call with Democratic donors, the Senate minority leader blamed Cunningham's inability to "keep his zipper up" for the party's failure to recapture the Senate.

But no one forced Schumer and the party establishment to anoint Cunningham as the Democratic nominee. They could have let the voters decide. Instead, they intervened on his behalf to ensure that a qualified black woman also running in the primary wouldn't win the nomination.

Erica Smith, a state lawmaker and former Boeing engineer, was understandably livid after the Democratic Party officially endorsed Cunningham in October 2019. She called the endorsement an "unacceptable … attempt to sway this election" and alleged that party leaders had told her "unequivocally" that they would not get involved in the primary.

Smith argued that race was a key factor in the party's decision to back Cunningham. "Sen. Schumer, for whatever reason, did not want an African American running for Senate in North Carolina," she told supporters at a campaign event in January.

Smith is understandably still bitter at Schumer and other members of the Democratic establishment for backing Cunningham at her expense—and for losing the election—because "there was no one more qualified than I was."

She blasted the Democratic Party's "pattern of interfering in primaries and elevating moderates at the expense of progressive people of color." North Carolina is not the only state in which party leaders intervened on behalf of white candidates who went on to lose.

In Kentucky, the party backed Amy McGrath over Charles Booker, who is black, and poured tens of millions of dollars into the race. McGrath lost to Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R.) by almost 20 percentage points.

In Texas, the Democratic establishment boosted MJ Hegar at the expense of Royce West, a seasoned black politician who accused party leaders of "trying to lock African Americans out of the process." Hegar lost to Sen. John Cornyn (R.) by 10 percentage points.