Sunday, August 13, 2006

African-American Republicans running for State-Wide office in record numbers

Ok, I guess I will call it equal time. Hazel Trice Edney, NNPA Washington Correspondent also reports Black Republicans are running serious races on statewide tickets. On May 2, Ohio Secretary of State J. Kenneth Blackwell was picked by Republicans as their gubernatorial candidate over Attorney General Jim Petro 56 percent to 44 percent. In November, Blackwell will challenge U.S. Rep. Ted Strickland, who defeated former state Rep. Bryan Flannery in the Democratic Primary the same day.Blackwell played a major roll in Bush’s controversial win in Ohio in the 2004 election. He was sued after an organization found that Ohio election officials had, in violation of state law, informed former felons that they could not vote. As a result of the suit, 34,000 former felons were notified that they had the right to vote.

Voters also complained that Blackwell failed to provide enough voting machines, causing some in Black and Hispanic communities to stand in lines for as long as 10 hours. Also, 95,000 votes were invalidated after being wrongly placed in machines by Hispanics who received no assistance with their language difficulties.

Still, Bush’s win in Ohio is - in part - attributed to a Blackwell-led referendum to prohibit same-sex marriage. According to the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, approximately 16 percent of Ohio’s Black population (90,000 voters) supported Bush.

In February, Lynn Swann, the former wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers, was chosen by Republicans as the Party’s nominee for Pennsylvania’s governorship. Recent polls show Gov. Ed Rendell well ahead of Swann, including a Quinnipiac University poll, showing him leading Swann by as much as 22 percent, with a margin of error of only 3 percent.

Also, Maryland’s Republican Lt. Gov. Michael Steele is a leading candidate for the U. S. Senate seat being vacated by retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes (D).

Republican Kay Coles James, who has served in several high-level Republican appointments, including former director of the federal Office of Personnel Management in the Bush administration, says the fact that Blacks have already won state party primaries underscore the party’s seriousness about Black candidates. Still, she acknowledges that Blacks are skeptical of voting Republican.

“You don’t have to give up anything,” she says. “I think that has to do with sort of the stereotype that people have of parties. It has to do with stereotypes that people have of conservatives or liberals because, quite frankly, the Republican Party is as diverse in its opinions on almost any issue that you raise as the Democratic Party is,” James says. “There are Black Republicans who are in favor of affirmative action and who are against it. There are pro-choicers and Black pro-lifers who are Republican and Democrat. I mean, you can’t just make those sort of broad, sweeping statements any more. I’m not sure you ever could.”

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