No, not a chance
Soon to be ex-Lieutenant
Governor Michael Steele
Maryland Senate: Can the GOP Win With Steele?
The potentially bigger problem for Cardin is whether the results of the primary create a divide between the Democratic nominee and the black vote. The primary between Cardin and Mfume was not at all contentious (the two men have known each other for years), and even though Mfume took three days to concede the race, he spoke glowingly of Cardin when he did, calling him a "great public servant."
Those kind words were overshadowed somewhat by a controversy within Cardin's campaign. A staffer was fired late last week after it was revealed that she made controversial racial remarks on a personal blog.
The timing of the firing couldn't be any worse for Cardin: The nominee wants to make clear to black voters, who comprise 28 percent of the state's population, that he -- not Steele -- will best represent their interests in the Senate. While the issue of race was barely mentioned in the primary, Republicans were quick to note that the only two black Democrats in contested primaries (Mfume and Stuart Simms, who was seeking the nomination in the attorney general's race) were both defeated by white men.
Republicans also circulated a recent quote from Rep. Al Wynn (D-Md.) in which he was asked by the Maryland Gazette what he thought the impact on the African American electorate would be if Mfume and Simms were defeated. Wynn, who is black, replied: "It's a scenario that I don't even want to talk about. 'I wouldn't want to speculate on what such a negative scenario it would be for the party."
It remains to be seen how the blog flap and comments like Wynn's will play out in the coming weeks. In the meantime, Steele is wasting no time in appealing to black voters. He has already run an ad featuring hip hop mogul Russell Simmons endorsing him, and his campaign has made clear he believes this traditionally Democratic bloc of voters is up for grabs. (A Democratic National Committee memo made public this spring argued that Steele had real potential to win a sizeable portion of Maryland's black vote.)
As The Fix has said before, we are fans of Steele's unconventional ad campaign, which seeks to break through the clutter of typical campaign ads. Steele's newest ad is an attempt to further his "outsider" image while insulating himself against the Cardin campaign ads -- call them comparative, call them negative -- sure to come.
"Soon your TV will be jammed with negative ads from the Washington crowd," says Steele directly to camera. "Grainy pics and spooky music saying Steele hates puppies and worse. For the record, I love puppies." He adds that he would ban all gifts from lobbyists to members of Congress and eliminate last-minute amendments to spending bills to reduce pork-barrel spending -- burnishing his reform credentials.
Since this post kicked off with raw numbers, let's finish it that way too. The most recent count of Maryland's registered voters showed Democrats at roughly 1.7 million, Republicans at 900,000 and independent/unaffilated voters at 430,000.
Do the math. If Steele wins every Republican and unaffiliated vote, he still is 400,000 votes short of the total number of registered Democrats in the state. Of course, not every registered voter (Democrat, Republican or independent) will cast a ballot on Nov. 7, but the numbers show the immensity of Steele's challenge.
This is a seat Cardin should win. That said, Democrats would be foolish to discount Steele's ability to win crossover votes -- especially among African Americans. Cardin starts the general election as a favorite, but there is no question that this is a winnable race for Steele as well.
The real indicators here is the Wynn-Edwards race, which is still relying on absentee ballots to determine the winner.
Now, if black voters were willing to turn Wynn into the street for Edwards, why would they vote for Steele? Who not only is more right wing that Wynn, but is closely aligned to the White House and racist contributors.
The GOP knows what Cardin knows, it isn't black votes he needs to worry about. Steele can expect Republicans to turn away from his candidacy in droves, as they do with all black candidates. Steele has to keep Republican votes. My bet, Republicans for Cardin will
soon spring up.
If Wynn is in trouble, how is Steele going to get all these black votes?
Remember, black voters supported Cardin, otherwise he couldn't have won. Black candidates lose to white candidates all the time, for many reasons. Mfume has a past and people know it. Some didn't like it.
For some reason, white reporters tend to assume black people are like children. Oh, he's black, I'll vote for him? Everytime an issue of race has come up, Steele ran for the hills.
Maryland black voters, like Ohio and Pennsylvania black voters know who hasn't stood with them, which is why Ed Rendell and Ted Strickland is getting the bulk of black support.
Before Clarence Thomas, people might have fallen for this, but given the brutal way Thomas and other black conservatives have turned on the community, people no longer fall for this gambit.
Cillizza should see the Wynn-Edwards race as a template. The issues Edwards ran on are the issues that Cardin will run on.
The one issue which will ruin any chance of Steele getting widespread black support is Iraq. Ned Lamont got a sizeable percent of the black vote in Connecticut because of Iraq. Cardin will get that same level of support because of the war in Iraq. That's the biggest issue in the black community and opposition is widespread. As long as Steele supports the war, his ability to get black votes is limited.
Oh, yes, the Washington Post mentioned that a racist and anti-semitic Cardin staffer, one stupid enough to put her racism and anti-semitism on a blog and compared it to my Sambo illustration.
Only problem: I'm black. Therefore, depiciting Steele as sambo on my part is not the same. Because it's not racist. But the GOP needs to promote that lie because Steele is such a shabby candidate. If he wasn't black, he'd be lucky to be running for the General Assembly.
posted by Steve @ 8:05:00 AM