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 The Resurrection of Black Political Power?

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Nombre de messages : 8069
Localisation : Washington D.C.
Date d'inscription : 28/05/2005

MessageThe Resurrection of Black Political Power?

The Resurrection of Black Political Power?
Democrats win House majority; Massachusetts elects first black governor

November 8, 2006--It was a mixed-bag for African American candidates in the 2006 midterm elections, but overall, the results may give black lawmakers more sway in Washington.

Massachusetts voters elected the first African American governor in its history— and only the second in U.S. history—Tuesday, as Congressman Harold Ford Jr.’s bid to represent Tennessee in the Senate ended in disappointment. Three other high profile black candidates, Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele, football great Lynn Swann, and Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell, all Republicans, were also defeated in statewide elections.

Perhaps the greatest victory for African Americans in Tuesday’s election was that Democrats won the majority in the House of Representatives, positioning a number of Congressional Black Caucus members to posts as committee and subcommittee chairs.

“This is the beginning of the resurrection of black power in American politics,” says Michael K. Fauntroy an assistant professor of political policy at George Mason University.

Even with Congressmen Charlie Rangel (D-NY) now slated to head the powerful Ways and Means committee and Bennie Thompson (D-Miss) in line to lead the Homeland Security committee, there’s no room for African Americans to become complacent, he says.

“We have to be careful not to oversell it, particularly if the Senate—Senate races in Montana and Virginia are still too close to call—stays in Republican hands, say Fauntroy. “There’s still a president who can veto things, and they still have to put together a coalition within the party to make it happen. It’s not a given. We shouldn’t assume that because there’s a substantial black presence in leadership and committee chairs that that necessarily means things are going to move quickly.”

With Democrats in control of the House it will be difficult for President Bush to get through whatever is left of his political agenda and it could put black lawmakers in a good position ahead of the 2008 elections, says author and political commentator Earl Ofari Hutchinson.

“It gives Democrats a lot more leverage to get [even] more black voter support,” Hutchinson says

Rangel may be uniquely positioned to repair the relationship between the two parties on his committee because of his experience, Fauntroy says. “He’s been in the minority, he’s been in the majority, and he can remember days in which Republicans and Democrats fought like hell during the day and then had beers together at night.”

Deval Patrick,MassachusettsGovernor-elect
Deval Patrick, a corporate attorney who led the Justice Department's civil rights division under President Bill Clinton defeated Republican Lt.

Mass. Governor-elect Deval Patrick
Governor Kerry Healey to become the next governor of Massachusetts with 55% of the vote. He won the office riding a wave of anti-Republican sentiment and by overcoming a string of Healey attack ads. Now political observers say Patrick might lead much more than a state government. Massachusetts could become a training ground for young Democratic hopefuls, with Patrick leading the way, says Boston University political science professor Julian Zelizer.
“It would be interesting if Massachusetts became a new testing ground for what a new Democrat should be. [Patrick] can separate himself from being looked at as an old fashioned, high-tax, big government liberal, and I think he wants to do that,” Zelizer says.

And if he does a good job, Patrick has the potential to be a real national figure, Fauntroy says. “(It’s) a huge win,” he says.

Harold Ford Jr.,TennesseeSenate Race
Congressman Harold Ford Jr., lost to former Chattanooga Mayor Bob Corker because he wasn’t able to rally enough support from white voters, according to Ron Walters, a political scientist at the University of Maryland.

“White males didn’t vote for him. Neither did white females, but white males more,” Walters says
An ad that depicted a bare-shouldered white woman saying that she met Ford, who is single, at a Playboy party (Ford did attend a Playboy Super Bowl party) may have irreparably damaged his campaign.

“That racist ad played at a time when they were neck and neck in the polls,” Walters says. “After that was played Ford fell behind. It woke up some of the racial sentiments in the South having to do with black men and white women. It reminded people that this is a black man after all who would represent us in the Senate and just enough whites didn’t want that.”

Although Corker only beat Ford by four points, the margin might be a little misleading Fauntroy says.

“Ford got within four points in the best possible year to be running against a Republican. So if this were more like a standard election year, it’s quite likely he would have lost by much more than four points,” Fauntroy says. “So I think we have to be careful not to say, he got within four, ran a great race—which he did, by the way—and he can just bide his time for the next run. I think if this were a regular year he would have lost by more, maybe closer to 10.”

MichaelSteele,MarylandSenate Race
Steele’s bid to represent Maryland and the Senate was plagued by his inability to attract enough white and black voters.

“He didn’t get the black vote that he thought he was going to get and he really needed it,” Walters says. “His white vote was important but it was not as high as he needed it to be. The white vote for Steele was 52% and for Cardin it was 46%. On the other hand, the black vote for Steele was 27% and for Cardin, 72%. So obviously he needed far more of a black vote in order to win.”

A day before the election, Steele said that he would attribute a loss to it being a bad year to be a Republican.

“There’s certainly no question that there’s an enormous amount of drag that you have to deal with from the fallout of people’s frustration with the president as well as the GOP nationally,” Steele said.

Lynn Swann, Pennsylvania Governor’s Race
Lynn Swann
Former Pittsburgh Steeler Lynn Swann might have been the most high profile of black candidates running in the mid-term elections and possibly had the lowest chance of winning.
The Republican Party attempted to use Swann to break in to incumbent Democratic Governor Ed Rendell’s stronghold of the Philadelphia area – where he served as mayor, and to pick up some black support, says F. Carl Walton, assistant professor of political at Lincoln University.

“He wasn’t able to do it, says Walton” “When he spoke about the issues that were most relevant to the black community—education, crime, healthcare—when he spoke about those issues, he spoke in generalities.”

Rendell easily beat Swann capturing 59% of the vote.

If Swann wants a career in politics he’ll need to come back better prepared, Walton says.

“Lynn Swann came into the situation thinking he was going to rely on other factors, his charisma, and his ability to relate to people,” Walton says. “In debates he didn’t seem to be prepared on the issues. If he wants to continue in politics he needs to regroup and prepare himself for whatever he wants to do as he moves forward.”

Kenneth Blackwell, Ohio Governor’s Race
There’s little surprise that J. Kenneth Blackwell’s bid to become the governor of Ohio wasn’t successful, Fauntroy says. Ohio’s secretary of state was up against strong anti-Republican sentiment and he may have been too conservative—even for many Republicans. Democratic Congressman Ted Strickland won with 60% of the vote.
Ken Blackwell

“He never stood a chance,” Fauntroy says. “People are sick of the Republican corruption at the state level. Second, Blackwell is to the right of most Republicans in the state. So if you’re a moderate Republican, he may be a little scary to you.”

What did surprise Fauntroy was how badly Blackwell was beaten.

“Blackwell got trounced by a guy who had very little name recognition in most of the state when he announced he was running,” Fauntroy says. “In fact, and this is what’s surprising to me, Blackwell lost by a greater percentage than Swann and I thought Swann was going to be completely blown out.”

--With reporting by Joyce Jones, K. Terrell Reed, Madison J. Gray and Philana Patterson

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