A top ally of the Congressional Black Caucus is launching a super PAC that will spend tens of millions of dollars to mobilize Black voters and flipping the House majority for Democrats — and electing the first Black speaker of the House.
Niccara Campbell-Wallace, the Congressional Black Caucus PAC's former political director, will serve as the executive director of the new organization, called Rolling Sea Action Fund. It will be aligned, but not directly affiliated, with the all-Democratic Congressional Black Caucus, and the group will be organized as a "hybrid PAC," a designation that will allow Rolling Sea to both raise money for candidates and have a separate account raising unlimited sums to spend on ads and other election spending.
Assuming Democrats hold a vacant seat in Rhode Island in a special election in November, the party needs to flip just five seats in next year’s congressional elections to take control of the House. If they manage that, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., a former member of Congressional Black Caucus leadership, would be in line to become the country’s first Black speaker of the House.
Campbell-Wallace told NBC News the group is "confident" it will spend more than $10 million on a multipronged strategy in 2024, including advertising as well as in-person organizing and engagement in key communities. The group will be "targeting districts that have over an 8% Black voting age population in the most competitive seats in the House." But she didn't rule out the group playing in primary races either.
"We know that Black voters are the cornerstone of the Democratic Party and of protecting American democracy," Campbell-Wallace said in an interview ahead of the group’s launch. "This will be something where we have an always-on effort to empower and mobilize Black voters, and make sure that we are reflecting the diversity and amazingness of America."
"We recognize as Democrats that we can do more and support Black voters who have been the cornerstone of our democracy, have turned out in record numbers overwhelmingly," she added. "So this is more so a love letter, to make sure that they understand that we are here for you, we hear your interests and we want to make sure that we're really driving that point home."
The Congressional Black Caucus membership includes a handful of newer members who won tight races in recent years, including Reps. Emilia Sykes of Ohio, Don Davis of North Carolina, Lauren Underwood of Illinois, Jahana Hayes of Connecticut, Lucy McBath of Georgia, Colin Allred of Texas and Steven Horsford of Nevada. Republicans have made a push to diversify their roster of House candidates, too, and their success in 2020 House races specifically was powered by candidates of color and women.
Black voters still overwhelmingly pull the lever for Democrats, with exit polls from the 2022 midterm elections showing 86% of Black voters siding with Democrats. But polling has shown a clear decline in the party's image over the last decade-plus.
In NBC News' 2009 merged polling, 76% of Black voters had a positive view of the Democratic Party and just 7% had a negative view.
In NBC News' polling from April of this year, 61% of registered Black voters had a positive view of the Democratic Party, and 15% had a negative view.
When asked about that trend, Campbell-Wallace said that the group's "always-on" approach can help keep Black voters engaged. She specifically pointed to President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris' efforts on unemployment, infrastructure and student loans, as well as what Biden and Harris' "representation means for our communities."
While Campbell-Wallace said the effort is "focused on taking back the House, and getting to 218 [Democratic members] and making Hakeem Jeffries speaker," she brought up the fact that there are no Black women in the Senate and that Congressional Black Caucus members are running for higher office (notably, California Rep. Barbara Lee, a former CBC chair, is running for Senate).
"We protect our own and we support our own," Campbell-Wallace said.
Asked again about whether the group plans to take sides in primary races, Campbell-Wallace simply replied: "We'll see."