A group of black conservatives is stepping up to fund qualified candidates, creating a new political action committee and launching a provocative social media campaign with #sayitloud as its hashtag.
The Black Conservatives Fund PAC
(BCF), launched last week, will offer financial support and endorsements for candidates in national and local races, and its support won't be limited to minority candidates, said Anita MonCrief, a founding member of BCF's board of advisers, a former ACORN whistleblower, and self-described "reformed leftie" who is helping to lead the fundraising drive.
"We're looking at improving representation," MonCrief, also a senior adviser at True the Vote, told Newsmax. "We want to fund black conservative candidates but also those who we feel are working to improve the lives of people in a neighborhood."
MonCrief said education is the key for the PAC's efforts — showing black voters what the conservative message could mean for them.
"We won't always get people to vote Republican but we can get them to vote conservative," she said. "We feel if we educate them, we create an informed voter who may go out and change their communities."
BCF notes on its website two candidates it is supporting: T.W. Shannon, who is running for a U.S. Senate seat in Oklahoma — where he served as the state's youngest and first black Speaker of the House — and Mia Love, the charismatic mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, who is making a second congressional bid after losing a tight race in 2012.
There will be more endorsements as the PAC establishes itself and becomes better known, utilizing social media sites like Facebook to share its story, MonCrief said.
MonCrief added that the party's values of limited government and traditional families should resonate among minorities, but that message needs to be shared, and those groups should not be written off without fighting for their attention and votes.
Others, including GOP strategist Cheri Jacobus, agreed that the party has a long road ahead if it hopes to bring more blacks and minorities into its ranks, but said that conservative positions on certain issues should be attractive to those groups.
"While the term 'outreach' has become outdated and seems a bit trite to describe what the GOP needs to do to expand its African-American vote, along with other minorities and women, it's helpful to note that GOP policies are a natural for each of those groups," Jacobus told Newsmax.
"GOP issues that should be attractive to black voters are the social issues — at least for the religiously devout — as well as lower taxes, limited government, pro-small business, and anti-death taxes as African-Americans build businesses and gain wealth that can be passed along to the next generation," Jacobus said.
Jacobus said giving money to help like-minded candidates will be a source of power.
"As African-Americans gain real power and decision-making influence and authority in the GOP, the trust, and the votes, will follow. A successful PAC by and for black Republicans is real money and, more importantly, real power. That packs a much bigger punch than mere 'outreach,'" Jacobus said.
The landscape for black candidates running as Republicans has shifted, likely a reflection of a backlash against policies of President Barack Obama, noted Crystal Wright, who pens the popular blog Conservativeblackchick.com
While Wright is not convinced that 2016 will be their year, she points to a record 11 black Republicans running for office in the Deep South state of Alabama as some evidence that the tide is shifting. That number is a marked rise compared to just one black conservative who sought office in Alabama in both 2010 and 2012, according to BET.com
Wright said there are plenty of black conservatives who want to run, but most of them have difficulty dealing with the financial challenges they face to get into a race.
A congressional bid, Wright said, can be a million dollars-plus proposition, putting it out of reach for those who hope to unseat an incumbent or introduce themselves to an electorate without much corporate or party support.
"They need support on their way up — not after they have established a trajectory," Wright told Newsmax. Former GOP Florida Rep. "Allen West only got support when he won the nomination. That is the only reason they came to him — when he won."
High-profile black conservatives making runs this year include South Carolina GOP Sen. Tim Scott, who is seeking to return to the U.S. Senate after he was appointed in 2013 by Gov. Nikki Haley to fill out the term of vacating Sen. Jim DeMint. He left to run the Washington, D.C.-based Heritage Foundation.
In Illinois, former Miss America Erika Harold, a lawyer and Harvard graduate, lost the congressional primary in March, in no small part because the party failed to support her bid, Wright asserted.
"Sadly, Erika got no support. She had all these Chicago papers and a lot of conservatives in Chicago who endorsed her. They said she was a fresh face, and yet all the doors were shut in her face," Wright said.
Wright lauded former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin for helping new black conservative candidates get a toehold.
"Sarah Palin is doing a great job. This isn't about affirmative action, but if you have good black candidates, and you don't have people who know the ropes to support them, it's hard. We are so vilified [as black conservatives], so we need a little extra support sometimes and I would argue some hand-holding in the process," Wright said.
She added "I do think it takes more courage to be a black conservative than any other political stand you might take. Not only do we get it from black liberals that we are sellouts betraying our race, we don't necessary get the help we need from the party itself."
Like MonCrief, Wright thinks many black voters will be more accepting of a conservative message.
"In the past 50 years, blacks have been loyal to one party, but I think they are beginning to see under the current economic system and a black president that perhaps those loyalties to the Democratic Party haven't served them well," Wright said.
"Many people are realizing and questioning that maybe I'm not really a Democrat at all, and that leads to a natural discussion of normalizing your political views as a black person and finding that you do have a home in the Republican Party," she said.
Other well-known black conservatives are taking note of the efforts, including West,
who called for more than mere outreach by his party but "principled inclusiveness."
"The conservative black movement dates back to Frederick Douglass and Booker T. Washington, as well as others, such as Asa Philip Randolph," he wrote on his website. "Of course 'coming out of the closet' and declaring yourself a black conservative is certainly not as welcomed as exiting the closet to say you're gay. However, more and more folks are demonstrating the moral courage to swim against the current."
West added: "No one is under the illusion that the black community will become conservative overnight. But we must remind our community that at its heart, we have always been conservative. Some will make the informed choice — not all — but if there is a 20 to 25 percent change in the voting patterns of the black community, well, that is success. And if we can get more blacks elected as conservatives at the state and local level, we begin to turn the tide."
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