May 10, 2006


The Year of the Black Republican?: GOP Targets Democratic Constituency in 3 High-Profile Races (Dan Balz and Matthew Mosk, May 10, 2006, Washington Post)

All three black candidates face significant obstacles. In heavily Democratic Maryland, Steele must win a big share of the black vote in a state where African Americans account for 28 percent of the population, almost three times the percentages in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Swann must overcome rookie mistakes that have plagued his campaign in the early months. Blackwell is running into head winds created by GOP scandals in Ohio and by lingering resentment in the African American community over voting problems in the 2004 election, which he oversaw as secretary of state.

Together, they embody a new chapter in the Republican Party's often-failed efforts to appeal to African Americans, a strategy shaped by RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman, who last year apologized for the GOP's Nixon-era "Southern strategy" of exploiting white resentment over integration.

"We've gone from a model of outreach to a model of inclusion," Mehlman said. "Outreach is a top-down approach. Inclusion says, 'Let's find some really good people and encourage them to run for office.' "

Republicans such as Mehlman say it will take more than one political cycle to change the habits of African American voters, and some Democrats say it will take more than a few attractive black Republican candidates to overcome GOP positions -- on affirmative action and other issues -- that many blacks view as anathema to their interests.

Still, some Democrats say the GOP's investment in high-profile black candidates represents a strategy that cannot be dismissed lightly. "It cuts into the Democratic base," said Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman. "It gives choices. And what that does is say to the Democratic Party, 'Put your money where your mouth is.' "

The plight of black America is, sadly, directly tied to things like Mayor Coleman viewing this as just another opportunity to squeeze a few bucks out of the Democrats instead of bring about real change.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 10, 2006 7:38 AM

And what "rookie mistakes" is he referring to in the article? Swann is doing fine, thanks. I really can't say much about the other cadidates, since they're not running in my state, but I suspect this article is yet more hogwash.

Posted by: rightwingprof at May 10, 2006 8:09 AM

Blackwell has always been a bit of the "maverick" and hasn't really been tainted by the misadventures of Gov. Taft (world's stupidest elected official, IMNTBHO). He ran very successfully as an outsider, and as a conservative true believer.

The Democrat nominee, Strickland, was running ads touting his family values and church membership in the primary--Blackwell's primary opponent, Jim Petro, pursued a similar strategy--so I think we know whose stadium this game's being played in, and who has home field advantage.

Posted by: Mike Morley at May 10, 2006 11:43 AM