Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Uhh, So Much For That "Obama Effect". Black Politicans Stay Losin'.

Soon after Barack Obama was elected President, the potential "Obama Effect" on various sectors of Black America was a topic of much discussion on the NegroNet©. Many seemed to think that Obama, simply by virtue of Negro Osmosis™ would inspire young black boys to leave the traaap and go to Harvard, and Michelle-O would rescue young sistas from the pole and magically turn them into hospital administrators. Having a loving Black couple parked at 1600 Penn Ave. would inspire brothas to "put a ring on it". We'd all pretend vocoders never existed. Lil' Wayne & Flavor Flav would spontaneously combust and disappear into thin air, never to annoy us with their extreme coonery evar again.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see the silliness in such ideas. Obama himself never promised that he'd be the magic cure for all that ails black America, and while I really appreciated him emphasizing a need for black folks to do more for self, I don't think it ever really registered. Time will tell if The Obama Effect was just a bunch of pointless prognosticating/projection, or something real.

In the meantime, we prolly shouldn't mention the term "Obama Effect" to the scores of black statewide candidates on both sides of the political spectrum who've caught an "L" during the ongoing primary season.
Eighteen months after Barack Obama's presidential win seemed to usher in a new era in racial politics, a different reality has emerged: Black candidates in races around the country are struggling so much that the number of African Americans in major statewide offices is likely to drop from the already paltry three. And the possibility exists that there will be no black governors or senators by next year.

The drubbing Tuesday of Rep. Artur Davis (D), who was running to be the first black governor of Alabama, was the latest in a series of defeats of black politicians in primaries this year for statewide office. And some of the blacks who already hold such posts aren't staying in them. Of the nation's two black governors, New York's David Paterson, plagued by ethics scandals, opted not to run this fall -- the same decision made by the only black senator, Roland Burris (D-Ill.).

Aspiring black politicians, such as Rep. Kendrick Meek (D-Fla.), who is running for the Senate, are underdogs in general election races. The only African American favored to win a gubernatorial or U.S. Senate seat is Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D), who is running for a second term. And while a number of black Republicans are running, many of them are losing in primaries as well, and the number of black members of the GOP in Congress could be zero.

The defeats illustrate that Obama's victory, at least for now, did not signal greater success for other black politicians. The majority of black politicians in Washington are members of the Congressional Black Caucus, representing districts that are disproportionately liberal and African American, making it difficult for them to build broader coalitions of supporters to win a statewide race. Historically, only two blacks, including Patrick, have been elected to governorships, and only six blacks, including Obama and Burris, have served in the U.S. Senate.

While the primary process is thinning the ranks of black candidates, a few remain. Patrick, who won in 2006 on the strength of backing from white liberal activists in a state with a small black population, has a double-digit lead in Massachusetts. Meek could benefit from a three-way Florida race in which two of the candidates, Gov. Charlie Crist, who is running as an independent, and GOP candidate Marco Rubio, could split the conservative vote.
Davis, of course, ran a campaign weaker than Thank Me Later.[1] He infamously became the only CBC member to vote against ObamaCare, in an attempt to solidify his appeal with moderate Alabamans. Obviously, being moderate in a primary is never a really good thing. Combine this with an embarrassing pissing match with the state's black political establishment that resulted in them endorsing his white opponent, and Davis' once-bright star was doused last week. Too bad, cause even I, in the desperate search for "The Next Obama" figured Davis had a future. Oh well.

I'll go ahead and call this one now: Meek will finish a distant third in Florida. I hope Patrick gets another chance in Massachusetts, but reality is, he's had his own share of issues. If there's any silver lining here, it's California Attorney General candidate Kamala Harris, whose Democratic primary takes place today. Lauded by many as the first black woman with a legitimate path to the Presidency, she's considered the frontrunner for the party bid.

Then again, so was Artur Davis.

Question: Was it unrealistic to expect other black politicians (on both sides) to piggyback on Obama? Did Davis make a severe miscalculation? Which, if any, black politicians still have a chance at statewide office?

Black politicians gaining little capital after Obama's election [WashPost]

[1] Not baggin' on Drake, but this album was, in the words of my friend The Uppity Negro, "Meh" at best. Of well, there's always J. Cole.

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