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November 18, 2005
NAACP Leader Switches Parties

Doug at Considerettes notes an interesting political story that should shake up South Florida politics, especially for those who want to toss race cards around during election season. Scott Maxwell at the Orlando Sentinel reports that the head of the NAACP for Florida's Orange County has responded to GOP outreach efforts by changing his party affiliation to Republican:

"I've thought about this for two years," [Derrick] Wallace said Tuesday afternoon, just a few hours after returning from the elections office. "This is not a decision I made yesterday."

It is, however, a decision that rang out like a shot among political circles.

Republican Party leader Lew Oliver described himself as "extraordinarily pleased," while Democratic leader Tim Shea said he was disappointed.

Wallace, a construction-company exec, was candid about the fact that his business life was a big part of his decision to change.

"It's purely a business decision. Ninety percent of those I do business with are Republicans," he said. "Opportunities that have come to my firm have been brought by Republicans."

To that, Shea responded: "I'm a little confused. Are we talking about the National Association for the Advancement of Construction Professionals -- or Colored People?"

Wallace elaborated that his "business" line of thought also referred to the NAACP. Behind many of the power desks in this town sit Republicans. And he said he wants his organization to be part of that structure. Just as importantly, he said, he didn't want people to immediately brand -- or dismiss -- NAACP concerns as synonymous with those of liberal Democrats. "I want this branch to be respected," he said.

This, of course, is the Big Nightmare for the Democrats. Wallace's pragmatism might foreshadow a general move on the part of African-Americans to take advantage of the courtship offered by the GOP to gain more influence in electoral politics. They have come as far as possible through the strategy of monolithic bloc-voting, and now they have to look at a wider strategy that will gain them more influence. Their failure to move the agenda for five years of knee-jerk opposition to Republicans shows the limits of their current leadership and approach.

Expect to see more moderates like Derrick Walker rise through the ranks. Wallace, in return, should expect to take some pretty vicious criticism in the short run, as does Michael Steele and every other minority conservative/moderate who fails to toe the party line.

LaShawn Barber also covered this yesterday.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at November 18, 2005 8:18 AM

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» NAACP Head Joins GOP! Yes The NAACP! from The Real Ugly American
Wow, I have to say I was excited, confused and curious when I saw this headline. Could this be true? Will the Democratic party actually have to compete for the black vote in America thereby giving mainstream Dems a chance to take our party back from th... [Read More]

Tracked on November 18, 2005 9:11 AM

» Could Blacks go Republican? from Antivenom
We got 10%, do I hear 20? Democrats are rightfully sweating over this one. If people start would only acting and thinking like resposible individuals rather than oppressed minorities, we might stand a chance of putting the Democrats out to pasture f... [Read More]

Tracked on November 18, 2005 1:17 PM


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