This must be the Democratic Party’s worst nightmare. The Democratic party likes to claim that the GOP is a racist party, and while the party has been void of African-Americans, it has been a matter of issues not racism. With President Obama’s disregard for a budget and his move toward a government controlled economy, more more African-Americans are inspired to run for political office as Republicans, conservative Republicans.
In the upcoming midterm elections, there are at least 32 African-Americans are running for Congress this year as Republicans, the biggest surge since Reconstruction, according to party officials. Having met many of these candidates during CPAC, I can honestly tell you they are very strong. So strong, that even the NY Times has taken notice.
The House has not had a black Republican since 2003, when J. C. Watts of Oklahoma left after eight years.
But now black Republicans are running across the country — from a largely white swath of beach communities in Florida to the suburbs of Phoenix, where an African-American candidate has raised more money than all but two of his nine (white) Republican competitors in the primary.
Party officials and the candidates themselves acknowledge that they still have uphill fights in both the primaries and the general elections, but they say that black Republicans are running with a confidence they have never had before. They credit the marriage of two factors: dissatisfaction with the Obama administration, and the proof, as provided by Mr. Obama, that blacks can get elected.
“I ran in 2008 and raised half a million dollars, and the state party didn’t support me and the national party didn’t support me,” said Allen West, who is running for Congress in Florida and is one of roughly five black candidates the party believes could win. “But we came back and we’re running and things are looking great.”
But interviews with many of the candidates suggest that they felt empowered by Mr. Obama’s election, that it made them realize that what had once seemed impossible — for a black candidate to win election with substantial white support — was not.
“There is no denying that one of the things that came out of the election of Obama was that you have a lot of African-Americans running in both parties now,” said Vernon Parker, who is running for an open seat in Arizona’s Third District. His competition in the Aug. 24 primary includes the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle, Ben Quayle.
Princella Smith, who is running for an open seat in Arkansas, said she viewed the president’s victory through both the lens of history and partisan politics. “Aside from the fact that I disagree fundamentally with all his views, I am proud of my nation for proving that we have the ability to do something like that,” Ms. Smith said.
State and national party officials say that this year’s cast of black Republicans is far more experienced than the more fringy players of yore, and include elected officials, former military personnel and candidates who have run before.
Mr. Parker is the mayor of Paradise Valley, Ariz. Ryan Frazier is a councilman in Aurora, Colo., one of four at-large members who represent the whole city. And Tim Scott is the only black Republican elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives since Reconstruction.
“These are not just people pulled out of the hole,” said Timothy F. Johnson, chairman of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, a black conservative group. That is “the nice thing about being on this side of history,” he said.
…In many ways, this subset of Republicans is latching on to the basic themes propelling most of their party’s campaigns this year — the call for smaller government, less spending and stronger national security — rather than building platforms around social conservatism.
“Things have evolved,” said Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, who is heavily involved in recruiting Republican candidates. “I think partly the level of hostility to Obama, Pelosi and Reid makes a lot of people pragmatically more open to a coalition from the standpoint of being a long-term majority party.”
….The black candidates interviewed overwhelmingly called the racist narrative [about th tea parties] a news media fiction. “I have been to these rallies, and there are hot dogs and banjos,” said Mr. West, the candidate in Florida, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army. “There is no violence or racism there.”
There is also some evidence that black voters rally around specific conservative causes. A case in point was a 2008 ballot initiative in California outlawing same-sex marriage that passed in large part because of support from black voters in Southern California.
When all is said and done, Barack Obama’s only success may very be the fact that he has revitalized the African-American membership in the GOP, that is good for the party, and good for the country.