February 17, 2003


Sharpton bid a nightmare for Democrats (Donald Lambro, 2/17/03, THE WASHINGTON TIMES)
The Rev. Al Sharpton's presidential bid is sending shudders through the Democrats' rank and file, who fear that his fiery, racial rhetoric could divide their party and lead to defeat in 2004.

Almost 10 months before the presidential primary contests begin, the black civil rights activist is coming under surprisingly sharp attack from Democratic-leaning journals and party activists, who say his agenda is rooted in racial polarization that poses a "nightmarish" scenario for Democrats next year.

Few Democrats — especially the spokesmen for the six other presidential contenders — want to talk on the record about what they think of Mr. Sharpton's prospective presidential candidacy. "Do you really think I'm going to respond to this?" asked a spokesman for one of Mr. Sharpton's rivals.

But privately some of them worry Mr. Sharpton's brand of racial politics will tar their party and repel white Democrats in the South and independent swing voters across the country.

"This is not good for our party. This could take us back to the 1980s when Jesse Jackson's candidacy divided the electorate and led us down the road to defeat," said a Democratic adviser and campaign strategist who did not want to be identified. [...]

Mr. Sharpton may soon have some competition for the overwhelmingly Democratic black vote. Former Sen. Carol Mosely-Braun of Illinois plans to run, and some say she is being urged to do so to divide blacks and prevent Mr. Sharpton from winning key primaries in the South, where blacks make up 40 percent or more of the Democratic vote.

Somebody better tell the Reverend that the assigned role of blacks is to vote Democrat for nothing in return.

A Conspiracy Theory for Everything (Terry M. Neal, February 17, 2003, Washington Post)

A question is circulating through some Washington circles: What happens if two African Americans, both with strong antiwar messages, run for the Democratic presidential nomination?

Will they split black voters' attention, allowing the half-dozen white candidates to focus on courting moderate and independent white voters whom both parties covet, particularly in the South?

Former senator Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.), the only black woman elected to the Senate, plans to announce her presidential candidacy Tuesday in Chicago. Some see her move as an effort to steal momentum from Al Sharpton of New York, whom some Democrats would like to usher off the stage. [...]

The conspiracy theory being kicked around is that some prominent Democrats urged Moseley-Braun to join the race, figuring that her background as a senator, an ambassador to New Zealand and a law professor at DePaul University would make her a more attractive black contender than Sharpton, who continues to suffer the taint of the Tawana Brawley affair and other controversies.

Last month, Sharpton implied as much in an interview with the Chicago Tribune, questioning Moseley-Braun's support levels. "Who will go on the record saying they will support her?" he demanded.

In an interview last week, Donna Brazile, chair of the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute, laughed off the conspiracy theories. She acknowledged that she had urged Moseley-Braun to run, but only because of her appeal as one of the few women to reach the Senate.

Ms Brazile seems to have hired a judas goat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at February 17, 2003 9:22 PM

C'mon Orrin,

Sharpton is a bad candidate for any number of of reasons, none of which have to do with race. Disliking him doesn't make a Democrat, or any one else, racist.

Noel Erinjeri

Posted by: Noel Erinjeri at February 17, 2003 11:06 PM

If he was white they wouldn't be worried. They're trying to stop him because he's black. That's not racist, but it is racialist.

Posted by: oj at February 17, 2003 11:37 PM

Moseley-Braun was elected in 1992's "Year of the Woman," a label which of course meant "liberal Democratic woman," but was not played that way in the major media. Anyway, she did ride the anti-Bush sentiment that year into office, and was as weak a Senator or weaker than any of the class of Republicans that Reagan carried into office with his 1980 election who then failed to win second terms in 1986.

On her own, Moseley-Braun is both a weak politician, and "charisma challenged" compared to Al Sharpton. If her candidacy is merely a stalking horse attempt to pull voters away from Al and marginalize his campaign, it's hard to see how Carol's going to do it, given Sharpton's ability to attract media coverage.

Posted by: John at February 17, 2003 11:52 PM

CMB was also voted in to office because we were sick of "Al the Pal."

Since I took a dem ballot in the primary to vote for Paul Vallas (a good man) I think I'm still a dem.

Wonder if Al'll be on the ballot by the time we vote?

I know who's getting mine.

Posted by: Sandy P at February 18, 2003 2:16 AM

In the spirit of the University of Michigan, I propose that both Al Sharpton and CMB be given 20 delegates each to the convention before the voting even begins.

Posted by: The Other Brother at February 18, 2003 6:05 AM

Please don't remind me--we were living in Chicago and I had to enter a voting booth knowing that, despite my vote, Clinton, Rostenkowski, & Ms Braun were all going to win.

Posted by: oj at February 18, 2003 7:58 AM