Friday, June 25, 2010

Black Republicans Gain Momentum

South Carolina State Rep. Tim Scott

There hasn’t been an African-American Republican in the House of Representatives since Oklahoma Rep. J.C. Watts exited in 2003. So, it’s news when three African-American Republicans win races in the South.

In South Carolina’s First Congressional District, Tim Scott, a black lawmaker from Charleston, beat Paul Thurmond, the son of erstwhile segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond. Those in the know say that Scott’s solidly Republican district will almost certainly send him to Washington in the fall, making him the fourth black Republican to be elected to Congress in the modern era.

Scott wasn’t the only black Republican to score a win on last Tuesday night. In North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District, former military man Bill Randall won a run-off, setting him for an uphill contest against Democratic incumbent Brad Miller. In Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District, Bill Marcy, a retired Chicago police officer, won the GOP nomination. Marcy, too, faces a Democratic incumbent, Bennie Thompson, unlikely to lose his seat.

Timothy F. Johnson, founder of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, a group dedicated to adding African-Americans to the party of Lincoln’s ranks, originally had his eye on 32 black candidates running on the Republican ticket this cycle. “For far too long, all Americans have assumed that all blacks think alike and vote alike,” Johnson says. “We don’t.”

Four percent of African-Americans voted for John McCain in 2008. Only 1.5 percent of delegates in the Republican National Convention were black. The lily-white affair played so poorly that party officials have dedicated themselves to diversifying the ranks by the time the 2012 convention rolls around in Tampa Bay. At minimum, the GOP is aiming to have 10 times as many black delegates in Florida, raising the number from 36 to 360.

The black Republicans getting the most attention these days are Star Parker, running in California’s 37th District, and Florida’s Allen West. Parker has attracted party glitterati like Sarah Palin to her side, but her district, which includes Long Beach and Compton, is about as blue as they come. West, a retired lieutenant colonel, has a real shot of bumping off Democratic Rep. Ron Klein.

Source: The Daily Beast (Samuel P. Jacobs, June 2010)

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