MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - It was a stunning victory for Marquita Bradshaw, and a historic one at that, in Thursday’s Democratic U.S. Senate Primary.
She is the first Black woman in the state to be nominated for U.S. Senate by a major political party.
“It’s time for us to move forward and lay racism to bed,” she said.
From the lawn of her Memphis home, surrounded by a handful of supporters, Marquita Bradshaw accepted her victory.
The South Memphis native and University of Memphis graduate ran a grassroots, progressive campaign focused on environmental justice and education.
She said her campaign had no paid staff and less than $25,000. The effort topped James Mackler, the Democratic establishment candidate with a $2 million war chest.
“People want change, and they want a voice that will listen to them first and be able to implement policies that address the issues that we are living today,” she said.
WMC Action News 5 political analyst Michael Nelson said given the pandemic, the economic downturn, and increased attention on racial injustice, progressive views are becoming more mainstream.
“None of us saw this coming, Marquita Bradshaw took us all by surprise,” he said Friday. “In a sense, it was a coming together of the right candidate, with the right moment.”
“In a year that’s extraordinary in every other way, why should we be surprised if our politics don’t reflect that uniqueness,” Nelson said on Bradshaw, “Don’t write her candidacy off.”
But Nelson said it’s important to remember Tennessee is as ruby red as it’s ever been.
President Donald Trump carried Tennessee in 2016 by 26 percentage points. Both U.S. Senators from Tennessee have been held by the Republican party since 1994.
Nelson said Republican Senate nominee Bill Hagerty will no doubt tout his Trump endorsement on the campaign trail this fall.