October 30, 2006

Maryland Shocker: Top Dems Cross Party Lines, Endorse Steele

Okay, I can't even pretend that I saw this coming:

Former Prince George's County executive Wayne K. Curry, backed by five black members of the Prince George's County Council, today endorsed Republican Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele's campaign for the U.S. Senate.

Mr. Curry, a Democrat who became the first black Prince George's county executive in 1994, and served two terms, is influential in Prince George's, the state's second-largest county, with about 846,000 residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

But the endorsement itself, while very important, doesn't excite me as much as why Curry seems to be breaking ranks with the state Democratic Party.

Mr. Curry signaled his dissatisfaction with Maryland's Democratic Party last spring, when a Democratic poll was leaked to the press, calling Mr. Steele a "unique threat" to the Democrats.

The poll advised Democrats to "knock Steele down" by linking Mr. Steele to President Bush and national Republicans, to turn Mr. Steele "into a typical Republican in the eyes of voters, as opposed to an African-American candidate."

Mr. Curry was incensed by the poll, and said at the time that Mr. Steele's candidacy presented an "enormously historic" opportunity for blacks that "may ultimately break this sort of vices grip by Democrats who feel entitled to black votes regardless of how they treat black voters."

I've long felt that lock-step voting was bad for blacks as individual voters and as communities, as Democrats felt they didn't have to give them anything other than lip-service attention to blacks during campaign season, while largely ignoring them between elections. The flipside of this, of course, is that Republicans running for office felt that they had no chance of picking up votes from blacks, and they ignored them, too. Both parties took black voters for granted in their own way, and black communities suffered as a result of their political capital being wasted.

Perhaps this movement by a small group of Prince George's County black Democrats is just an anomaly that will prove to be a one-off oddity in the realm of American politics. On the other hand, perhaps other black community and political leaders will key in on Mr. Curry's observations and realize that breaking the vice grip Democrats have on the black vote is the best chance they have of wielding real political power in the future.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at October 30, 2006 09:25 PM | TrackBack

I worked for a Member of Congress in Baltimore County, but she was also State Republican Party Chair and so we did a lot of work statewide. At the time, she was the senior elected Repub. in Maryland and pretty much the party spokesperson.

I cannot tell you how big these endorsements are. Prince Georges county is a very black middle class county. These powerful dem. leaders in PG carry a lot of weight. But not only that, this will reverberate right into Baltimore City, which is the other majority black dem. stronghold.

Posted by: Sara (Squiggler) at October 30, 2006 09:46 PM

We'll know that blacks are full participants in our society when they start voting Republican. The same was true of Irish and Italian immigrants in the past.

Posted by: Van Helsing at October 30, 2006 10:27 PM

It really is nice that some leaders of the black community are begining to think out of the democrat box, but Steele is still down 11 points or so w/ a week to go. The dems have been shooting themselves inthe foot though - negative campaining against a black person running for a prominant position does not go over well in PG and Mongomery counties and Baltimore City.

Posted by: Web at October 31, 2006 07:13 AM

The GOP consistently chooses WASP racism over justice for Blacks. As long as this happens Blacks will vote for Democrats. To vote for GOP just because he is Black is ammature politically.

Irish and Italians vote GOP because the GOP reflects some of there policies. The GOP on the whole is antagonistice to the needs of most Blacks.

Posted by: Bernard W. Scott at October 31, 2006 09:33 AM

The GOP is the only party that advances Blacks to higher office and has its African American members supported by the party. If we right wingers are so racist, then why would the republicans have no problem putting a Black candidate as LT. Govener, and support the same guy for Senate. I agree, that to vote just based on race is not a good political idea, which is why I (as a white man) will have no problem voting for Steele. However I disagree that the GOP is not advancing the true needs of most Blacks, we just dont make feel as good.

Posted by: Web at October 31, 2006 09:51 AM

The GOP on the whole is antagonistice to the needs of most Blacks.

Why have they done so well under this republican administration then?

Black home ownership and small businesses are all up sharply.

Posted by: Purple Avenger at October 31, 2006 10:46 AM

Interesting that the MSM meme is: "Harold Ford, Jr. has chance to be first African-American senator from the South since Reconstruction." Last time I examined the subject, Maryland was a Southern state. Funny how Steele never gets that same boosterism, isn't it.

Posted by: wjo at October 31, 2006 12:07 PM

Big difference between Maryland and Tennessee (and what makes Ford special) is that in the 1860's while the latter broke away, the former stayed.

And, it's not that bright to support a black candidate simply because he's black... PG doesn't always get that whole "thinking" thing down every time.

Posted by: Desk Jockey at October 31, 2006 12:40 PM

As somebody who grew up in Kentucky, and has spent several years living in Florida and Mississippi, I can tell you - the only people who think MD is part of the 'south' are Marylanders. Nobody south of I-64 takes that claim seriously :-)

Posted by: legion at October 31, 2006 05:00 PM