Riding a fierce anti-incumbent wave, Republicans have an opportunity to make history by electing a record number of black conservatives to Congress in November.
Fourteen black Republicans have received the GOP’s nomination in their respective congressional districts. If just three of them win, it would mark the first time since Reconstruction that more than two African-Americans from the Republican Party have served in Congress, according to The Frederick Douglass Foundation.
"We're pretty confident that at least two of those individuals will make it for sure,” Timothy Johnson, co-founder of The Frederick Douglass Foundation, tells Newsmax. “And I'm looking upwards to as many as five or six. I could be surprised, it could be more."
Many black Republicans eschew the hyphenated African-American modifier when describing themselves, emphasizing the point that they are Americansfirst and foremost .
The foundation, a public-policy and educational group that promotes free markets and helps bolster black GOP candidacies, says the last time more than one black Republican served in Congress was in 1995-1997, when GOP Rep. Gary Franks and Rep. J.C. Watts were elected.
“This will be the most successful election cycle for African-American Republicans in at least the last 20 years,” Republican Ken Blackwell, former Ohio secretary of state, tells Newsmax.
Blackwell estimates there is a 75 percent chance that at least three black Republicans will win national office this cycle.
“I think you're going to have three to five winners, and the number of real competitive races will be greater than that,” he says. “I think that would be a substantial victory and a nice benchmark from which to start a major realignment as we go forward.”
Five or more victories by black Republicans would signal that the long-awaited dream of a Republican big tent — the opening up of the party to greater ethnic and gender diversity — finally could be coming true.
Frances Rice, head of the National Black Republican Association, recently told Newsmax that the increase in black GOP candidates is noteworthy. But she blames the mainstream media for ignoring black Republicans in previous election cycles.
“You have to keep in mind black Republicans have been running for a number of years,” she said. “They've been ignored because talking about them as Republican candidates didn't fit into the media template."
Headlining this year’s group of black Republicans are Tim Scott in South Carolina’s 1st Congressional District and Allen West in Florida’s 22nd.
Scott defeated eight other candidates in the GOP primary including Paul Thurmond, son of late South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond. Scott, who is heavily favored to defeat perennial Democratic candidate Ben Frasier Jr., would become the first black congressman to represent South Carolina since Reconstruction.
West is the Iraq war hero and retired Army lieutenant colonel who has turned into a fund-raising powerhouse for the Republican Party. His fiery speech to the Florida tea party went viral, and has attracted more than 2.2 million page views.
“The Constitution says promote the general welfare, not provide welfare,” West declares in the video. “We have a class warfare going on. You’ve got a producing class, and you’ve got an entitlement class.”
West is locked in a slugfest with incumbent Rep. Ron Klein, who voted the Democratic Party line about 98 percent of the time.
In the first quarter of 2010, West actually out-fundraised Klein, who in 2006 defeated GOP Rep. Clay Shaw in District 22, which leans slightly Republican.
In an interesting twist, leading members of the Congressional Black Caucus have announced they will be campaigning against West.
“There’s no doubt [Klein] and West are locked in close combat,” Politico reports.
Beyond Scott and West, Johnson says this cycle’s roster of black Republicans is the strongest field the GOP has ever presented. The candidates have deep resumes, extensive political experience in their local communities, and most of them have demonstrated the ability to raise enough campaign cash to run competitive races.
Johnson says electing three black Republicans would send a powerful message.
“It would change the dynamics and change the way that people view the black community as it relates to representation in Congress,” he says.
Beyond Scott and West, the other 12 black GOP candidates looking to make history in this year’s midterms:
- Charlotte Bergmann, Tenn.-9 — Democratic Rep. Steve Cohen is in such a safe district that Bergmann’s campaign slogan is “Charlotte Bergmann Can Win.” She has been demanding that Cohen debate her, but so far he’s turned a cold shoulder to those entreaties, apparently sensing his best chance of surviving a wave election is to ignore her existence. Bergmann is owner of a Memphis-based marketing firm, Effective PMP, LLC. In 2003, she was named Tennessee Business Woman of the Year.
- Robert Broadus, Md.-4 — A small-business leader and Naval Academy graduate, Broadus has written that, as a young person growing up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., he was taught that all Republicans were racists. But his interest in politics motivated him to learn and decide for himself. Over time, he says, he came to conclude that Republicans historically have done more to promote freedom and liberty than Democrats.
- Stephen Broden, Texas-30 — Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has called it “an honor” to endorse Broden, who has pastored a church in the Dallas area for over 20 years. Broden’s campaign has won national attention, with other endorsements coming from Rep. Pete Sessions and Rep. Jeb Hensarling, among others. Broden is a passionate defender of conservative principles and limited government, which he identifies as the key to American greatness. Broden’s opponent is Eddie Bernice Johnson, who has been caught in the ethics spotlight for distributing college Congressional Black Caucus Foundation scholars to her four relatives and a top aide’s two children. Johnson denies any favoritism, and said she couldn’t find any other children in her district who were “very worthy.” This sparked a broadside from Broden that all the children in his district are worthy. CBC Foundation general counsel Amy Goldson told the Dallas Morning News Johnson’s actions violated its nepotism rules, and are “of great concern.”
- Michel Faulkner, N.Y.-15 — Faulkner is offering voters in New York’s heavily Democratic 15th Congressional District a conservative alternative to returning ethically challenged Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel back to Congress. Faulkner has signed the anti-tax pledge promulgated by Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform. After 22 years as a New York City pastor, Faulkner promotes small businesses, rather than the government, as the best chance for a strong economic recovery.
- Ryan Frazier, Colo.-7 — Bush campaign “architect” and Fox News commentator Karl Rove hosted a fundraiser Friday for Frazier and two other GOP candidates in Colorado. Frazier is a military veteran and small businessman who advocates lower taxes, reduced government waste, and securing the borders.
- Isaac Hayes, Ill.-2 — An ordained minister and community activist, Hayes faces a tough battle to unseat Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. in Illinois' 2nd Congressional District. There are growing indications that Jackson's connection to the Rod Blagojevich scandal may have alienated Illinois voters. Hayes could be poised to score a major upset. Hayes has received the endorsement of the American Conservative Union and the National Right to Life PAC.
- Charles Lollar, Md.-5 — A U.S. Marine combat veteran, Lollar describes himself as a fiscal conservative who wants to “rein in the out of control spending by the Pelosi Congress.” He faces an uphill battle against House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. His campaign is focusing on the economy, and he states low taxes are the key to a robust economy.
- Bill Marcy, Miss.-2 — Marcy is a retired security director and Chicago cop who says his time on the beat taught him just how much liberal agenda has devastated American families. His opponent is Rep. Bennie Thompson, an African-American who has served in Congress since 1997, and who has been widely criticized in recent years for taking free junkets to the Northern Mariana Islands, Mexico City, Honduras, the Virgin Islands, Key West, and St. Martin.
- Star Parker, Calif-37 — Founder of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, Parker is a high-profile columnist and author with an inspiring personal story. Parker is the founder and president of the Center for Urban Renewal and Education. She’s running against incumbent Democrat Rep. Laura Richardson in California's 37th congressional district. One watchdog named Richardson to its report on congressional corruption after she reportedly accepted favorable loans and failed to properly disclose them. In July, the Office of Congressional Ethics cleared Richardson of wrongdoing. Among those who have endorsed Parker’s candidacy: Steve Forbes, GOP Rep. Marsha Blackburn, GOP Rep. Michele Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, among many others.
- Bill Randall, N.C.-13 — After growing up in New Orleans' lower 9th Ward, Randall knew what it was like to face tough challenges. He attained the U.S. Navy’s highest non-commissioned rank, command master chief, before launching a political career. He’s been endorsed by Tea Party PAC USA and supports the Fair Tax.
- Marvin Scott, Ind.-7 — Marvin Scott has been a professor of sociology at Butler University for nearly 20 years. He also ran the Marvin Scott Associates consulting firm for nearly a decade. Scott recently hired Jerry Alexander, former political director for Rep. Mike Pence’s 2008 campaign, to serve as his campaign manager. His opponent is incumbent Rep. Andre Carson, a Democrat.
- Chuck Smith, Virginia-3 — A former U.S. Marine and longtime attorney, Smith is running in Virginia's 3rd Congressional District against incumbent Democrat Rep. Bobby Scott. Smith is a staunch opponent of taxes and big government. Former Virginia Sen. George Allen is aiding his fundraising efforts.
GOP leaders have been talking for years about expanding the GOP tent to include more minorities.
There are 42 African-American Democrats in Congress, a number that includes the lone black senator, Sen. Roland Burris of Illinois, and non-voting delegates from the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
One reason more black Republican candidates haven’t run for office may be that they usually end up on the receiving end of brickbats and outright slurs from progressives, who react to any rivalry for the black vote, more than 90 percent of which traditionally goes to Democrats.
Johnson says the latest example of mistreatment involves West.
The Florida Democratic Party distributed a flyer to untold thousands of voters echoing the Klein campaign’s attacks on West. The flyer reproduced a 2005 tax lien from Indiana that displayed West’s Social Security number, making West a prime candidate for identity theft. West called it “an unprecedented new low in American politics.”
The state Democratic Party dismissed the flier as an “oversight” and agreed to defray the cost of identity-theft monitoring for West for two years.
Black Republicans are facing another frustration this year: The mainstream media insists on crediting Barack Obama, of all people, for their ascendancy.
Johnson says the media could be right but not in the way they think.
He contends more qualified black Republicans have stepped up to run this year because they have been alarmed by the direction America’s first black president is taking the country.
“Yeah,” says Johnson, “you had a bunch of blacks who said, 'We're tired of being stereotyped that all of us think like him.’”
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