Black lawmakers in Virginia set to be key powerbrokers

Black lawmakers in Virginia set to be key powerbrokers
Trump's election in 2016 has helped the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus grow its ranks and given Democrats control of the General Assembly for the first time in more than two decades. (Source: Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — In Virginia, where political power has historically eluded black people, African Americans have just won unprecedented levels of clout.

Black officials there give ironic credit to President Donald Trump and the voter animosity he's engendered.

Trump's election in 2016 has helped the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus grow its ranks and given Democrats control of the General Assembly for the first time in more than two decades. Two black lawmakers are vying to become the first African-American House speaker in the state's history.

Black lawmakers say they plan to use their influence to address longstanding racial inequalities in areas including housing and criminal justice.

They’ll likely have the strong backing of Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam. He has supported issues important to African-American lawmakers following a blackface scandal earlier this year.