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Dr. Adia Winfrey running for Congress in Alabama. Photo courtesy of Winfrey's campaign.

From Alabama to Pennsylvania, black women are running for office at every level, but their experiences highlight some of the unique challenges they face as candidates.

Why it matters: It's difficult to build a diverse bench of candidates — something the national party campaign arm says is "crucial to winning back the House" — when black female candidates feel slighted by the Democratic Party because they want more help in running a campaign for the first time.

By the numbers: There are at least 43 black women running as challengers for the U.S. House of Representatives, but only one has the DCCC's backing. There are no women of color in 33 states' congressional delegations, per the Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP,) and 30 states have never elected a woman of color to Congress.

What it's like running as a black woman

Fundraising is a struggle. Dr. Adia Winfrey, a first-time candidate running for Congress in Alabama, told Axios that her early optimism about running quickly wore off when she realized "this is still very much a game of the haves and have nots. Know the right people and you have to have money.”

  • Winfrey said that she was never around politicians or in political circles growing up. “As African Americans we are not taught or groomed or raised in that political mindset to understand this is what you do," she said. Often, black women find unique ways of fundraising, like hosting a hip-hop concert to raise money for her campaign.

Black women have unique experiences. Many of the women Axios interviewed highlighted the life perspective black women can bring to the political table. Michigan congressional candidate Kimberley Hill Knott said they better understand the issues facing women and people of color — things like "poverty, homelessness, the environment, health care, and small business support."

  • Kerri Harris, running for U.S. Senate in Delaware, told Axios: "There aren't enough voices in congress that truly understand the plight of the average person." She worked at a Delaware chain gas station frying chicken before she decided to run. "It doesn't matter if you’re pushing a broom today — tomorrow you could be making the rules."

There's an implicit bias against black women, some of these candidates say. Knott said she's had constituents ask: "We already have one woman of color in office representing Detroit, why do we need another?"

  • Harris, in Delaware, added: "As a POC it's knowing that every single thing is scrutinized." She's biracial and identifies as black, but said that she struggles recognizing how "racially charged" things have become. "You go in front of groups who are just as much you because you’re biracial. But a predominately white room doesn’t see themselves in you."

The Trump factor: Winfrey in Alabama said President Trump "is going to help my campaign more than anybody could’ve ever known" because he "opened up the door for people running for office to do things that they were previously told they couldn’t do."

Go deeper: Black women candidates feel slighted by the Democratic Party.

Go deeper

Updated 36 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.

NRA declares bankruptcy, says it will reincorporate in Texas

Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) speaks during CPAC in 2016. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The National Rifle Association said Friday it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and will seek to reincorporate in Texas, calling New York, where it is currently registered, a "toxic political environment."

The big picture: The move comes just months after New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit to dissolve the NRA, alleging the group committed fraud by diverting roughly $64 million in charitable donations over three years to support reckless spending by its executives.

3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.