Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
July 22, 2005
POLITICS: Year of the African-American?

Remember how 1992 was the Year of the (liberal/Democratic) Woman? Think the media will buy 2006 being the Year of the (conservative/Republican) African-American? Let's list the races:

*Michael Steele is all-but-openly running for an open Senate seat in Maryland, and the Lt. Gov. is likely to get the GOP nomination.

*Detroit City Councilman Rev. Keith Butler looks like he could be the GOP frontrunner to challenge Debbie Stabenow, a potentially vulnerable Democratic Senator in Michigan.

*Former Steeler Lynn Swann is gearing up to challenge Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, and Swann's high name recognition could make him the GOP frontrunner.

*Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell is expected to be a serious contender for the governor's mansion in 2006, and is a favorite of conservatives looking to shake up the scandal-ridden establishment in the faltering GOP stronghold.

*NY Secretary of State Randy Daniels appears to be considering entering the wide-open race (assuming George Pataki doesn't run again) to challenge Eliot Spitzer for Governor of NY.

*To top it off, a conservative African-American Democrat, Harold Ford, will be running for an open Senate seat in Tennessee.

Now, there are few hardier perennials in political commentary than the vain hope that the GOP can break through with black voters. And all six of these guys are varying degrees of long shots, although none of them besides Daniels seems like a certain dead loser. These will mostly be hotly contested races, and black Republicans will be in the thick of several of them. How many of the five Republicans will get the nomination and win more than 10-12% of the African-American vote? It could be a trend to watch, even if the media winds up having to be dragged kicking and screaming to acknowledge it.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 8:35 AM | Politics 2005 | Comments (4) | TrackBack (2)

Concur with the premise and believe we have been building to this for decades. Ken Blackwell for example didn't just show up this year. He was a Cincinnati councilman in the mid-80's.

I do disagree with your characterization of Harold Ford as a "conservative" Democrat. He plays one on FOX occasionally but he is not conservative. Also, I expect his senate campaign to get derailed by the stench of corruption that his family is knee deep in in Tennessee. It will be hard for him to disassociate from his political mentors (his dad and uncle).

Posted by: LargeBill at July 22, 2005 11:08 AM

I think Ford is certainly conservative by the normal standard of black Democrats, who are often from exclusively black constituencies and thus tend to hold positions that wouldn't play to more diverse groups of voters. That doesn't really make him a conservative in the general sense, though.

As far as the black Republicans go, they still to seem to be in about the same boat that black college football coaches were in fairly recently (and may still be now to a large extent) - i.e. they tend to get their shot mostly in unwinnable situations. But then again, it's a start.

Posted by: Jerry at July 22, 2005 1:51 PM

As a Democrat, I always assumed we had to gain to retain our ground after 2000, because no Democrat can ever take for granted the 90% of the African American votes that Al Gore received that year. Bill Clinton had a special bond with African American voters and the Southern strategy was still fresh in the minds of older black voters.

Going forward, Democrats will be forced to work harder for these votes. No longer can we simply stomach an obnoxiously long speech from the likes of Al Sharpton and expect high percentages of the black vote. No, we'll have to really earn that vote, and for the sake of black voters I hope we do!

Many Michael Moore Democrats, when asked why blacks should vote for Kerry in 2004, recited the standard 'Bush skipped the NAACP meeting.' Well after Kwesi Mfume's disgrace, I don't think that charge will hold as much (if it ever held any) water in 2008.

So in conclusion, I am glad the GOP is going to be compete for the minority vote in future elections, but I hope the Democrats step up to the challenge!

Posted by: Pat Rick at July 23, 2005 12:57 AM

Good point, Pat. Competition for the black vote can only be a positive.

Posted by: Richard at July 24, 2005 2:38 AM
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