Black Tea Partier Katrina Pierson Takes on Obama—and Her Own Party

Texan Katrina Pierson is vying to become the first black female Republican in Congress, and she’s got Sarah Palin’s endorsement. But can she win?

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When I asked Pierson about the specific concerns of black voters, she was most animated on the issue of comprehensive immigration reform, which she opposes and believes, if passed, will put more immigrant workers in competition with African-American workers for blue-collar jobs.

On voter-ID restrictions, she dismissed my suggestion that state legislatures were enacting laws designed to suppress voter turnout, and insisted that GOP support for voter-ID laws was “solely based on voter fraud.”

When asked to name the issue on which she most disagreed with the president, Pierson said, bluntly, “I don’t like any of his policies.” But on the question of whether he deserved any credit for turning negative into positive GDP growth and overseeing a more than doubling of the stock market during his tenure, she deadpanned that she had no problem giving him credit for that, since “he’s been taking care of the Wall Street bankers, like previous presidents.”

Clearly, she's not a fan. But it’s not just Obama who’s in her sights. “Republican leadership,” she says, “just isn’t interested in governing in a conservative manner, and it’s our duty as Republicans to hold our elected officials accountable.”

Pierson is the underdog in next Tuesday’s Texas Republican primary against incumbent Rep. Pete Sessions, partly because Palin’s approval, while still coveted on the far right, isn’t worth quite what it used to be—and partly because as of last month, Sessions reported well over $1 million in his campaign coffers, while Pierson’s campaign had only $50,000 on hand.

In this race, she’s got the backing of Tea Party true believers. She’ll find out next week if it’s enough to win over GOP primary voters in Texas’ 32nd Congressional District.

David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

David Swerdlick is an associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

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