August 22, 2002


For Black Politicians, 2 Races Suggest a Rise of New Tactics (LYNETTE CLEMETSON, August 22, 2002, NY Times)
The defeat of Representative Cynthia A. McKinney in a Democratic primary on Tuesday--the second loss this summer by a prominent black House incumbent to a more moderate black challenger--carries implications for black politicians, and perhaps others as well, that go far beyond any single Congressional district. [...]

Many political experts said today that the victories of the two challengers showed that successful black candidates no longer had to rely solely on rhetoric and tactics of the civil rights era.

"The black electorate is increasingly well-educated, more entrepreneurial, business-savvy and politically moderate," said Jarvis C. Stewart, a
Washington lobbyist and major Democratic fund-raiser. "Many who were not raised in the era of the civil rights movement don't relate to or see the benefit in polarizing politics."

Still, it was the money from campaign contributors motivated by a single issue--one not directly related to problems and concerns in the candidates' districts--that allowed the challengers to get out their messages, a fact that has caused resentment from some black politicians.

"I definitely have some feelings about any outside group exerting this kind of influence in a race, and I've been receiving angry calls from black voters all day, saying they should rally against Jewish candidates," said Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, a Texas Democrat who is the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Hard to see how anybody--other than the incumbents themselves and the special interests that support them--loses in this situation. The black community gets more moderate leadership, more concerned with the 21st Century than the 19th. Republicans in Democrat dominated districts get some say in who represents them. And the wedge being driven between blacks and Jews may move Jews toward the GOP which is their more natural home. Posted by Orrin Judd at August 22, 2002 8:45 AM
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