Record number of blacks up for Senate

Nov. 1, 2006 at 12:41 PM

BOSTON, Nov. 1 (UPI) -- The major parties have nominated six African-Americans for U.S. senator and governor, including one poised to become the first black governor of Massachusetts.

The record number of Senate and gubernatorial nominations is joined by an additional 10 black candidates for state offices including lieutenant governor and secretary of State, USA Today reported Wednesday.

The Democratic nominee for governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, holds a wide lead over his Republican opponent, Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey, in polls, raising the possibility that he could become the state's first black governor and the second African-American to hold the office in the country.

"African-Americans are now able to come through the political pipelines and break through old barriers," Democratic strategist Donna Brazile told USA Today. "Whether they make it to the finish line is another thing, but the door has been left ajar."

Democratic Memphis Rep. Harold Ford Jr. could become the first popularly elected black senator from the South if he wins the tightly contested Tennessee contest in Tuesday's elections. Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, a Republican, also faces a close contest for the Senate in his state.

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