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And Mia Love is not the only black Republican who won big on this week's midterm elections. Victories for two other black Republicans seem to be building momentum for a GOP that's diversifying. Hansi Lo Wang of NPR's Code Switch team reports.
HANSI LO WANG, BYLINE: Republicans in Utah's fourth district will be sending Love to the U.S. Congress next year - Mia Love.
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MIA LOVE: Many of the naysayers out there said that Utah would never elect a black, Republican, LDS woman to Congress. And guess what? We - not only did we do it, we were the first to do it.
WANG: Mia Love, who is Mormon and Haitian-American, is one of three black Republicans just elected to Congress. Another was Tim Scott, who was appointed to the Senate in 2012, but won a full-term in his own right on Tuesday. He's now South Carolina's first elected black Senator, and the South's first since Reconstruction. There was also a historic win in Texas.
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WILL HURD: My name is Will Hurd. My hope is that you elect me your next congressman from District 23 of Texas.
WANG: Will Hurd's hope became reality. The former CIA officer is the first black Republican from Texas ever to win a U.S. congressional seat.
MICHAEL STEELE: It's a start. And yeah, I want more. You know, I want to get to the point where it's not notable.
WANG: Michael Steele is notable himself. In 2009, he became the first African-American chairman of the Republican National Committee. He says these rising stars will follow the lead of former Congressman Allen West and J.C. Watts who, like other black Republicans, face suspicion from many African-American voters.
STEELE: You still have to deal with the stereotype that somehow if you're a black Republican, you're not a real black person.
WANG: But Steele adds there are also legitimate questions about his party's commitment to racial diversity.
STEELE: White folks get excited when they see oh, we got a black candidate running for office. OK, that's great. But what are you doing to get them elected? It's not just enough to have the face on the ballot.
WANG: Amy Holmes, a former speechwriter for Republican Senator Bill Frist and an anchor on TheBlaze.com, says this newly-elected group represents an important part of the post-Obama era of politics.
AMY HOLMES: I think President Obama's election in 2008 inspired a lot of African-American politicians, including on the right.
WANG: Holmes points out these candidates also succeeded in places where black voters did not make up the majority.
HOLMES: The old, conventional wisdom has been that an African American politician has to run from a majority African-American district. Well, these three candidates prove that's not true.
WANG: But the relationship between the GOP and black voters has to change as U.S. racial demographics continue to shift, according to Lenny McAllister. He's a former Republican candidate for Congress and the host of "The McAllister Minute" on the American Urban Radio Network. Early exit polls show almost 90 percent of African-American voters supported Democrats on Tuesday. And McAllister says that allegiance to the Democratic Party diminishes black political power.
LENNY MCALLISTER: We cannot continue to only access half of the political process. We need Republicans and Democrats being actively and efficiently responsive to our needs.
WANG: McAllister admits it will take more than these three winners for Republicans to earn the trust of black voters. But he says we shouldn't forget how a young senator from Illinois beat the odds to become America's first black president.
MCALLISTER: The impossible happens in America. And if we're going to open up the doors to what's possible for more Americans, we have to take on this fight now.
WANG: Hansi Lo Wang, NPR News.
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