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A group of black business leaders has launched a new political action committee to back candidates who support economic causes that benefit African-Americans. Here's more from NPR's Scott Neuman.
SCOTT NEUMAN, BYLINE: The Black Economic Alliance bills itself as nonpartisan, but its first four endorsements announced Monday are all Democrats. They are Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, who is running for re-election, and three other candidates who are seeking governorships. Ben Jealous in Maryland is a former NAACP president and businessman. Richard Cordray is the former director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He's vying to become Ohio's next governor. And Georgia Stacey Abrams hopes to make history as the country's first African-American woman to be elected governor. The alliance's director, Akunna Cook, says it's choosing its candidates carefully.
AKUNNA COOK: We went through an exhaustive process of trying to understand candidates who are running in states and districts that are least 10 percent African-American in competitive races and also went through a process of evaluating the candidates based on their backgrounds and their commitments to issues around economic empowerment and security in the black community.
NEUMAN: The PAC starts with $3.5 million from 55 donors, including heavy-hitting backers from the black business community, people such as Ken Chenault, a former CEO of American Express. Jamal Simmons of Hill.TV is a former Democratic consultant. He says what's unique about the Black Economic Alliance is that it's not just focused on electing black candidates.
JAMAL SIMMONS: So Ben Jealous and Stacey Abrams are on the list but so is Tim Kaine from Virginia.
NEUMAN: Simmons says, in the old days, many black entrepreneurs and businesspeople who put their money behind candidates took what he calls the Michael Jordan approach - quietly writing a check but not drawing too much attention to it.
SIMMONS: I think we're now in the LeBron James era where people are willing to not only raise the money but speak up and make a forceful statement about why.
NEUMAN: Maryland's Ben Jealous, who is hoping to unseat incumbent Republican Governor Larry Hogan in November, says he's thankful for the endorsement.
BEN JEALOUS: They, frankly, bring the sort of vision and support that we don't just need to win, but we need to govern in a way that will be more inclusive and help to lift up our state as a whole.
NEUMAN: The Black Economic Alliance says it plans to make as many as a dozen endorsements for congressional races after Labor Day. Scott Neuman, NPR News, Washington.
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