While Michael Steele's latest remarks have Republicans in their usual state of turmoil, Alternet's Rich Benjamin points out that the party, without a single black member in Congress, is offering up a heaping plate of soul for this year's midterm elections.
In remarks at DePaul University this week, Michael Steele, the Republican leader, declared that his party hadn't "done a very good job" courting black votes. Republicans, their leader charged, had "mistreated" their relationship to blacks over four decades with a "'southern strategy' that alienated many minority voters by focusing on the white male vote." "Why the hell is Steele, chairman of the RNC (!!), talking about a southern strategy from decades past when today's GOP can win 50 seats in the House," one angry GOP operative demanded by email.
Steele's remarks, and this fresh round of controversy entangling the party, shadow a less reported development. Thirty-two black Republicans, a record-high number, are now running for the U.S. House of Representatives. The South and West, the nation's most diverse regions, field the majority of these candidates: 13 (40 percent) are running in the South and six (19 percent) in the West.
- Politically speaking, the group is running in a hodgepodge of districts: Twenty (63 percent) are running in districts that lean slightly or strongly Democratic, while 11 (34 percent) are running in districts that lean slightly or strongly Republican. What's more, the 32 black candidates are running in districts that vary in racial composition: 17 are in majority-white districts, while 15 are majority-minority districts.
"People who've lost factory jobs or lost their home, people who approach me after Tea Party events, have asked me to run," says Angela McGlowan, a small-business owner and former Fox TV political analyst, running to unseat a Blue Dog Democrat in Mississippi's first district. "They say, 'Angela, you've made it big. Please go back to Washington and help us.' When people who have despair ask you for help, you don't turn them down."
There is no specific or organized effort to recruit black candidates to run for Congress, says Paul Lindsay, spokesperson for the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), the official party organization working to elect Republicans.
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