Monday, May 10, 2010

Can A Black Republican Win This Fall?!?

Now that we're in the era of post-racial America, common sense would dictate that Black politicians would seize the Obamomemtum and use it was a springboard for aspiration to higher office. Plenty of folks are familiar with Artur Davis' run for Governor in Alabama, as well as Kendrick Meek's run for US Senate in Florida. Depending on whom you ask, those two guys might have a snowball's chance or a fair shot. What's certain is that as Black Democrats, they've at least got a chance at garnering some level of support from Black voters.

Black Republicans, on the other hand, are experiencing a renaissance of their own this electoral season, with at least 32 confirmed to be running campaigns for Congress.
Among the many reverberations of President Obama’s election, here is one he probably never anticipated: at least 32 African-Americans are running for Congress this year as Republicans, the biggest surge since Reconstruction, according to party officials. The House has not had a black Republican since 2003, when J. C. Watts of Oklahoma left after eight years.

But now black Republicans are running across the country — from a largely white swath of beach communities in Florida to the suburbs of Phoenix, where an African-American candidate has raised more money than all but two of his nine (white) Republican competitors in the primary.

Party officials and the candidates themselves acknowledge that they still have uphill fights in both the primaries and the general elections, but they say that black Republicans are running with a confidence they have never had before. They credit the marriage of two factors: dissatisfaction with the Obama administration, and the proof, as provided by Mr. Obama, that blacks can get elected.

Interviews with many of the candidates suggest that they felt empowered by Mr. Obama’s election, that it made them realize that what had once seemed impossible — for a black candidate to win election with substantial white support — was not. The candidates might be helped by the presence of Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee who is black and ran for the Senate himself in 2006.

In many ways, this subset of Republicans is latching on to the basic themes propelling most of their party’s campaigns this year — the call for smaller government, less spending and stronger national security — rather than building platforms around social conservatism.

Many of the candidates are trying to align themselves with the Tea Partiers, insisting that the racial dynamics of that movement have been overblown. Videos taken at some Tea Party rallies show some participants holding up signs with racially inflammatory language.

A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that 25 percent of self-identified Tea Party supporters think that the Obama administration favors blacks over whites, compared with 11 percent of the general public.

There is also some evidence that black voters rally around specific conservative causes. A case in point was a 2008 ballot initiative in California outlawing same-sex marriage that passed in large part because of support from black voters in Southern California.

Still, black Republicans face a double hurdle: black Democrats who are disinclined to back them in a general election, and incongruity with white Republicans, who sometimes do not welcome the blacks whom party officials claim to covet as new members.
I'll go out on a limb and predict that not a single one of these Negroes wins election in the Fall. Sure, some of them like Michael Williams[1] and Allen West are qualified. Others, like Star Parker and Angela McGlowan should just stick to their Fox News day jobs as Resident Negroes vs Obama. I don't think these people have a shot mainly because I doubt many of the TeaBaggers who cheer these very folks on when they deliver their anti-Obama stump speeches see them as anything other than a disposable novelty. If so, how come I've yet to see one black Tea Party speech that wasn't mostly about the speaker's being black, and having issues with our Black President?


It's not like the GOP is exactly chock full of great ideas to save the country in the first place, and if your entire appeal is mostly based on the fact that you're Black and don't agree with the Black President, chances are potential supporters won't see you as much more than that. Most Republican primaries have proven that Tea Party-affiliated candidates aren't gaining traction. If you're Black and you've made a name for yourself at these very Tea Parties, you probably aren't gonna get any Black votes, and there's a good chance the Party apparatus isn't going to put the money and push behind you to help you win a primary in the first place. Lets not forget, the GOP wants to win, not prove some point about nonsense like "diversity and inclusiveness". I doubt any of these guys gets the sort of financial backing and kingmaking endorsements that can elevate them to the level of being considered a potential winner come November.

There's also the small matter of demographics. McGlowan is running in a traditionally Democratic, largely white Congressional District in Mississippi. Parker is running in a largely Black, traditionally Democratic District in Long Beach, CA where no Republican has gotten more than 23% of the vote in recent elections. Neither, by virtue of being both Black and Republican, has a snowball's chance. Even if McGlowan were to magically morph into a solid candidate, it's unlikely she'd get the push and co-signs from party leaders that legitimized her as a candidate.

I'm not even saying this is a GOP-specific thing, because I witnessed the MD State Democratic Party completely sh*t on Kwesi Mfume in favor of a had-been named Ben Cardin for US Senate. Cardin, of course, went on to narrowly beat Michael Steele, a guy so weak he often misrepresented himself as a Democrat on the campaign trail. Look at the non-existent push Kendrick Meek is getting in Florida. It's almost as if neither party will even entertain the idea of running a minority candidate for a seat that isn't an automatic shoo-in. Before you mention the word "Obama", go google and find out more about Jack Ryan. Barry didn't exactly have the Democratic Party's co-sign either.

Let's face it: Both parties have issues running black candidates unless it's for a Congressional district with safe demographics. I think it's even more of an issue with Black Republicans, who already are at a deficit for what should be a given (Black support) and face an uphill battle for "mainstream" votes.

We'll see how all this plays out, but my smart money says Black Republicans will go 0-for-32.

Question: Do any of these candidates have a chance, or will their novelty status prove to be the extent of their electoral popularity? How long before Daedadulus chimes in with his usual "voting Democratic is why Negros are trapped in the hood' anyway" riff?

Black Hopefuls Pick This Year in G.O.P. Races [NYT]

[1] You thought that was TD Jakes, didn't you?

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