Most Black Republicans Since Reconstruction Run for Congress

32 candidates gear up for November

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African-American voters and the modern GOP have a complicated relationship. There hasn't been a black Republican in Congress since 2003. After President Obama won 95% of the black vote in the 2008 election, the Republican National Committee, partly in a bid to gain some African-American support, appointed black Republican Michael Steele as RNC head. Steele's tenure has been rocky, but public support for Obama has also dropped, as public frustration with the economy rises. So it's in this climate of complex racial politics that a new crop of black Republican candidates is entering the 2010 elections. In all, there are 32 running this November. What do they represent and what challenges do they face?

  • Why This Is All About Obama The New York Times' Jennifer Steinhauer provides two reasons why Obama is reponsible for African-Americans joining the opposition party to run for office: "dissatisfaction with the Obama administration, and the proof, as provided by Mr. Obama, that blacks can get elected."
  • ...But They Still Have No Shot New York Magazine's Dan Amira counters, "the success of Obama doesn't really portend success for black candidates running as Republicans. ... Mostly because they can't count on the support of black Democrats, or of white Republicans, who, as the Times puts gently, 'sometimes do not welcome' blacks."
  • Proves Conservatives 'Have No Barriers to Entry' Conservative blogger Ed Morrissey evaluates the news: "For the past year, the national media has attempted to paint the Tea Party movement and opposition to the Democratic agenda as based in racism, a reaction to the election of the first African-American President in November 2008. ... the reality of the opposition makes that very difficult to believe." These black Republicans "shows that conservatives have no barriers to entry except on policy and philosophy -- just like any other political movement."
  • Black People Are Conservative! Jennifer Rubin of the conservative magazine Commentary is amused: "African Americans, the Times discovers, are attracted to conservative social positions." She predicts, "If a batch of these candidates wins ... the Congressional Black Caucus will be properly recast as the Liberal Congressional Black Caucus."
  • Pure Symbolism Newser's Kevin Spak writes, "Of course, the party only believes five of them actually have a prayer of winning, and most face primary competition, but that's still a coup for a party that hasn't had a black House member since 2003."
  • Parallels to Black Tea Partiers The Washington Post's Amy Gardner and Krissah Thompson talk to a black Tea Party leader. "Nigel Coleman, who is black, leads the Danville TEA Party Patriots in southern Virginia. He said the fact that the movement is predominantly white doesn't mean it is inherently racist. 'I went to a wine festival yesterday,' he said. 'Weren't too many black people there, either. Nobody called them racists.'"
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.