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November 12, 2005
Will Steele Split The Black Vote In Maryland?

The candidacy of Michael Steele for the Maryland Senate seat vacated by Paul Sarbanes has some Democrats worried about a split in their most loyal constituency -- the African-American vote. Steele became the first black candidate to win statewide office when he ran for Lieutenant Governor, and now his run for Sarbane's seat may have Maryland voters in a quandry:

Black Maryland Democratic leaders say Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele's run for the U.S. Senate could put them at odds with black voters who would question their endorsing a white candidate, such as U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, over the black Republican.

"I think at that point I'd be saying that I am endorsing the Democratic ticket," said Delegate Obie Patterson, Prince George's County Democrat and former chairman of the General Assembly's black caucus.

"It would be a much more difficult task to rally the troops to get out and vote for a single person such as Ben Cardin," he said. "It would be easy for me to sell it as a Democrat supporting Democrats. ... Whether I can do that actively enough to bring over all my friends, I'm not sure."

Former state Democratic Party chairman Isiah "Ike" Leggett predicted almost every black Democratic official would remain loyal and endorse whoever gets the party nomination.

But "among rank-and-file African-American Democrats, some may be torn, especially if there are no blacks [on the Democratic ticket] in other significant elected positions," said Mr. Leggett, a black Democratic candidate for Montgomery County executive.

The short answer for this problem would be to remind people that they should vote for the person whose policies best represent what's best for the nation, the community, and themselves, preferably in that order. Unfortunately for the Democrats, they have generally failed to enumerate policies which address those points. Instead and especially with the black community for the past four decades, the Democrats have relied on racial politics and smear campaigns to keep a lockgrip on that constituency. The Democrats in Maryland argued just last week that such attacks on Steele would continue in this campaign.

Another solution would be to nominate Kweisi Mfume as the Democratic contender, but his campaign has severely lagged due to disinterest and prior ethical baggage. That might be good news for Steele but not for Maryland Democrats. Mfume could remove race from the campaign altogether -- he was one of the few who came out strongly against the "Simple Sambo" tactics of the Maryland Left against Steele last week -- and return the election to an honest debate on issues, if he chose to do so.

Instead, they will likely have Cardin go up against Steele, and the dynamic Republican might start peeling away enough of the traditional Democratic bloc to prevail in the general election. If so, it bodes very ill for Democrats hoping to capture the state in 2008. Once black conservatives begin to gain legitimacy in the African-American community, they will show the voters there that the Republican platform has much to recommend for their benefit, including school vouchers, tax incentives for private investment in the community, and more.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 12, 2005 10:06 AM

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» Washington Times Hack Piece Still Being Pushed from Llama School
The Washington Times wrote an article last week where they claimed that Maryland Democrats believed that racially tinged attacks against Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in his bid for the U.S. Senate are fair because he is a conservative Republican. [Read More]

Tracked on November 12, 2005 11:02 AM


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