The GOP and the 2 percent for rent
Bush and 2 percent for rent Negro Keith Butler
Black Republican candidates for the United States Senate
By Paul M. Weyrich
web posted March 20, 2006
Republican National Chairman Kenneth B. Mehlman has gone out of his way to tell the Black community that it should not be taken for granted by Democrats but should give Republicans a second look. He cites various Republican initiatives, such as school choice, the No Child Left Behind measure and President George W. Bush's ownership society, as reasons for Black reconsideration.
I am convinced that Mehlman is sincere in not only wanting to see Blacks vote for Republicans but to see Black Republican candidates elected as well.
The game on the ground is very different, however. In two races the White Republican establishment is doing everything in its power to frustrate the Black candidate. In a third race the Party establishment has cleared the way for the Black candidate. In a fourth race only a Governor's strong support has caused the Black candidate to be in
In Michigan the Reverend Keith A. Butler had worked tirelessly and had the Republican Senate nomination all but locked up. The other candidates had dropped out. Butler now could concentrate on Senator Deborah A. Stabenow (D-MI), the incumbent.
Then came word that Senator Elizabeth H. Dole (R-NC), the Chairman of the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, did not think Butler could win. So not only did she twist the arm of a sheriff of a populous country to jump back into the race which he earlier had abandoned but her minions were systematically contacting Michigan state legislators who had endorsed Butler to drop him in favor of his primary opposition.
What has Washington forced Keith Butler to do? He must raise several million dollars to run a late primary. The victor coming out of that primary necessarily will be weakened and will have a tough job raising the many millions required to defeat an incumbent Democratic Senator, especially one who seemingly has strengthened her position in recent weeks.
If Washington had just left well enough alone, I believe that Butler would have pulled off the surprise election of 2006. Now it doesn't look as good and that is the fault of the White Republican establishment, which welcomes candidates like Butler with one hand and stabs them in the back with the other.
With all that background, it would be reasonable to conclude that the Ohio Republican Party would be thanking Blackwell. Not so. The Party leadership has recruited a formidable candidate to run against him, who is being cheered on by Washington. Blackwell is ahead but not so far ahead to assure his nomination. The Democrats believe they can win Ohio for the first time in decades so they have a strong, virtually unopposed, candidate.
In Ohio Republicans play dirty. While Blackwell is ahead now, no doubt he will be roughed up by a party whose key players would rather control the wreckage than to win with a candidate they can't control. There is a good chance that if Blackwell won the primary and were a strong candidate in the general election, those he had defeated would not support him so he could be done in by so-called moderate Republicans.
To some veteran reporters this campaign looks the reverse of California in 1964 when Senator Pierre E.G. Salinger, considered a shoo-in, ran against the actor George L. Murphy. Murphy had so informed himself about California water, development and transportation problems that when he debated Salinger on statewide television he blew Salinger away. Observers think Rendell, who no doubt is an expert on Pennsylvania's problems, might blow Swann away when they debate closer to the election. It will be no easy victory for Swann if he does win but at least he doesn't have to fight against the White Republican establishment in the process.
Finally Maryland Lieutenant Governor Michael S. Steele is the GOP candidate for the Senate. The Republican establishment in parts of the State is not happy about this turn of events. But Governor Robert L. Ehrlich let it be known that if Steele decided to go for the Senate rather than running for a second term with Ehrlich the Governor would move heaven and earth to give Steele a chance. We still hear grumbling about Steele as a candidate and stories are leaked about his supposed incompetent campaign, clearly from Republican sources.
Steele is thought to have one shot at the Senate from this deep Blue State, if former Congressman Kweisi Mfume were the Democratic nominee. That would pit one Black candidate against another and would allow Steele to split the Black vote. If, as expected, Steele must run against Representative Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD) it would be all uphill for Steele.
On the surface the GOP is united on behalf of Steele but beneath all of the sweet talk there is grumbling and divisiveness, which also could negatively impact Ehrlich's re-election chances. So while the rhetoric is strong for Black involvement with Republicans the appeal by and large is not made in the Black churches, where there are cultural conservatives who do not believe that Democrats are helping the family. Rather the pitch is made to the NAACP, the Urban League and other old-line Black organizations which are so tied to Democrats that the GOP pitch draws ridicule.
Should Republicans turn the situation around to create a more level playing field these candidates could be judged on their own. It remains to be seen if Republicans at the grassroots level are ready for Black Republicans to be elected. I'm not sure they are
This article is important because Weyrich was one of the modern heroes of the conservative movement, and even he is calling the GOP out on the way they treat black Republicans.
What he does get is that the GOP doesn't treat their black candidates fairly, what he doesn't get is that black voters do not trust or like these people and are unlikely to vote for them because of their fealty to the GOP. There is still a social stigma for black Republicans, last night's Boondocks couldn't have been more emphatic about that, with Uncle Ruckus praising "white Jesus" with the assistance of Armstrong Eldridge (a bald, bespeckled black man who oddly enough looked like Armstong Williams). In fact, Uncle Ruckus, the self-hating Negro, is widely seen as a fair representation of black Republicans.
Of course, he overestimates the influence of churches and underestimates the power of the NAACP. And Michael Steele is held in contempt by most black Marylanders to a degree most people would be shocked by.
But this is surprising because Weyrich is no outsider. And even he sees the way that the GOP treats black candidates is revolting.
Of course, Michigan is the home to some of the most virulent white supremacist activity in America, so Butler's chances are small to begin with. The underlying weakness of black Republican candidates is that they don't have widespread support in the black community, where being a conservative republican is akin to admitting you're an Uncle Tom.
But his larger point is that the GOP is undermining their own candidates because of race and that his fellow Republicans won't vote for him.
So the next time the far right blogzombies say this is racist, I intend to throw this in their faces. Because it is the truth.
posted by Steve @ 7:40:00 PM