African-American voters and the modern GOP have a complicated relationship.
There hasn't been a black Republican in Congress since 2003. After
President Obama won 95% of the black vote
the 2008 election, the Republican National Committee, partly in a bid to
gain some African-American support, appointed black Republican Michael
Steele as RNC head. Steele's tenure has been rocky, but public support
for Obama has also dropped, as public frustration with the economy
rises. So it's in this climate of complex racial politics that a new crop
of black Republican candidates is entering the 2010 elections.
In all, there are 32 running this November. What do they represent and
what challenges do they face?
- Why This Is All About Obama
The New York Times' Jennifer Steinhauer
provides two reasons why Obama is reponsible for African-Americans
joining the opposition party to run for office: "dissatisfaction with
the Obama administration, and the proof, as provided by Mr. Obama, that
blacks can get elected."
- ...But They Still Have No Shot
New York Magazine's Dan Amira counters, "the
success of Obama doesn't really portend success for black candidates
running as Republicans. ... Mostly because they can't count on the
support of black Democrats, or of white Republicans, who, as the Times
puts gently, 'sometimes do not welcome' blacks."
Conservatives 'Have No Barriers to Entry' Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey evaluates the news:
"For the past year, the national media has attempted to paint the Tea
Party movement and opposition to the Democratic agenda as based in
racism, a reaction to the election of the first African-American
President in November 2008. ... the reality of the opposition makes that
very difficult to believe." These black Republicans "shows that
conservatives have no barriers to entry except on policy and philosophy --
just like any other political movement."
- Black People Are
Conservative! Jennifer Rubin of the conservative magazine Commentary is amused:
"African Americans, the Times discovers, are attracted to conservative
social positions." She predicts, "If a batch of these candidates wins
... the Congressional Black Caucus will be properly recast as the
Liberal Congressional Black Caucus."
- Pure Symbolism
Newser's Kevin Spak writes, "Of course, the party only believes five of
them actually have a prayer of winning, and most face primary
competition, but that's still a coup for a party that hasn't had a black
House member since 2003."
- Parallels to Black Tea Partiers
The Washington Post's Amy Gardner and
Krissah Thompson talk to a black Tea Party leader. "Nigel Coleman,
who is black, leads the Danville TEA Party Patriots in southern
Virginia. He said the fact that the movement is predominantly white
doesn't mean it is inherently racist. 'I went to a wine festival
yesterday,' he said. 'Weren't too many black people there, either.
Nobody called them racists.'"
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