By Trae Lewis
Only six black senators have served in the United States Senate: three Republicans and three Democrats, including current President Barack Obama. In the current 112th congress, no United States Senators are black.
There is no tangible reason for this disturbing fact, however, some elements are clear and present as to give a possible answer. The premier element is money. Regardless of candidates demographic, in order to be a serious general election US Senate candidate you must spend on average 6 million dollars from the date of declaration to your conceivable win.
That alone excludes many credible candidates from entering US Senate races. Despite this, a good number of black candidates still are able to have the financial backing to enter a US Senate race. This article will focus on the candidates that did enter and examine the reasons why some won and others did not.
The age-old natural direction is to attribute the lack of black representation in the US Senate to the controversial “Bradley effect”. The Bradley effect is a theory to explain observed discrepancies when a white candidate runs against a black candidate in a statewide election, the white candidate will always surely win. The win based on the fact no state has no more than 35% of its voter population black, and very few blacks win outside majority held black electorate districts. The theory has some legitimacy, however, L. Douglas Wilder for governor in Virginia, Edward William Brooke for US Senate in Massachusetts, and most notably Barack Obama for US President, defeated their white opponents in grand fashion.
What made Wilder, Brooke, and Obama different from Kendrick Meek who lost his US senate bid in Florida in 2010, Denise Majette who lost her bid for US Senate in Georgia in 2004, and Harold Ford, Jr. who lost his bid for US Senate in Tennessee in 2006. All three losers were credible, popular, congressional representatives prior to their lost. The three even turned out a sizable number of black voters in each race.
To summarize the aforementioned US Senatorial loses; I reference the late rapper Gang Starr’s 1994 hit “Mass Appeal”. The candidates did not have “mass appeal”, meaning when they ran for office, the race of their skin was not a factor for their lost, however, the candidates trying to use their skin color to win their race was a factor for their lost. Meaning, Meek, Majette, Ford, and a host of others have lost statewide races because the overtones of their campaigns were centered on race. All three were US Congressional Democrats from overwhelmingly black districts. Their appeal based on the notion why 80% of Black Americans are Democrats in the first place, that the Democratic Party reflects the interests and priorities of racial minorities. In each of the candidates’ case, all three had congressional records as being “super liberal”, even for Democrat party standards.
As recent as 2009, 40% of Americans interviewed in national Gallup Poll surveys describe their political views as conservative, 35% as moderate, and 21% as liberal. These numbers only increase to the more conservative and moderate end in states such as Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee where Meek, Majette, Ford ran. Few candidates, regardless of party and demographic, are able to win statewide elections based on careers that have been established on being a crusader for the most extreme end of a political ideology.
Additionaly, Meek, Majette, Ford, and many other Black Democrats have made careers on racial causes, which is suitable for their majority black congressional races, however, the US Senate must appeal to voters from all demographics, especially to voters who believe race plays no factor in their everyday life. A voter in that sense would find no reason to vote for a candidate whose entire political strategy is off racial rhetoric. White Democratic candidates, notably the Southern United States blue dog Democrat have forged tactics with Democratic Party principals, but in a wider political ideological appeal package, which is needed to win statewide contests.
While running for US President, Barack Obama eloquently gave his famous “race speech” on March 18, 2008, in which he stated race has and always will be a factor in politics, however he will not be running as a black man for President, yet as an American running for President. Obama wisely separated his campaign from racial rhetoric, which help separated him from being a winner and his opponent the loser.
Trae Lewis is currently the president of the Baltimore Area Young Republicans and serves as the Nationalcommittee Man for the Maryland Young Republicans, lifelong conservative and registered Republican since 2006, the same year he graduated from Howard University with a BA in political science. In 2010 he served as the field coordinator for the “Ehrlich for Baltimore City” gubernatorial campaign. Since 2010 he has appeared and been featured in numerous Baltimore area print, radio, and television media outlets speaking on the cause of the Republican Party and conservatism as a whole.
Trae Lewis (@traelewis) Twitter
Someone is going to have to step up and run for the office. Maybe they won't get the nomination on the first or even 2nd try. But until we choose to walk in like we belong there it won't happen. I know there are qualified people with the talent & the conservative, constitutional principles who won't compromise to run......which means they will be runing against the Republican elites who only support Theri candidate be they white or black. That is why the TEA Party is so very active...we are not only exposing the Dems, we are on the RINO's as well.
That is how I see it. What say you?