Category: Political Miscellany

Election Wrap-up: Black Republicans Go to Congress

The 2010 election cycle is notable for the Republican Party tidal wave that saw the Democrat Party lose control of the House of Representatives, and have diminished majority in the Senate. The Wave brought with it some diversity in the GOP’s Congressional delegation: there are now two African American Republicans in the House of Representatives.

The last time there were two African Americans Republicans in Congress was in 1995-96, when J. C. Watts represented the 4th District of Oklahoma and Gary Franks represented the 5th district of Connecticut.

This year’s breakthrough occurred thanks to the election of black Republicans in Florida and South Carolina. Allen West won his race for congress in southern Florida, while Tim Scott won his race in the Charleston and northern coastal area of South Carolina.

Allen West won in Florida’s 22nd District, which includes parts of Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, and other portions of Broward County and Palm Beach County. These are north of Dade County, which contains the city of Miami.

West’s district is 75% white, 15% Hispanic, and just 5% black. He beat out two-term Democratic incumbent Ron Klein by a margin of 54.3% for himself to 45.7% for Klein. The two had faced each other in the 2008 election; in that election, Klein beat West by 55% to 45%.


Allen West, Congressman-elect, 22nd District-Florida

West has something of a reputation for being controversial and combative. The 2010 Almanac of American Politics spoke of West in its discussion of the 2008 election:

…former Army Lieutenant Col. Allen West… retired after a 2003 incident in which he fired a gun near the head of an Iraqi detainee in an effort to make him reveal information about plans to attack U.S. troops. West’s explanation was that he had “sacrificed” his military career “for the lives of my men.”

Also during the 2008 campaign, West charged that a request for an interview from Al-Jezeera was actually part of a kidnapping plot.

The website TalkingPointsMemo.com said this about West:

Without a doubt, Allen West is going to become a new star all around — adored on the right, and a bogeyman of the left. First of all, West built his conservative political career on a particular event from his own military service — when he tortured an Iraqi policeman, and was proud of it. Since then, his attitudes on foreign policy haven’t changed much: “A nation goes to war against an ideology. We are against something that is a totalitarian, theocratic, political ideology, and it is called Islam.” The incident ended his time in uniform, and launched him on a track to Republican politics.

Also during this past campaign, West faced questions over his campaign’s ties to a criminal biker gang, The Outlaws. And at one of his events, a group of leather-clad men ejected a Democratic video tracker, as West got the crowd cheering. (It is unclear whether these same security men were Outlaws. In addition, West has pointed out that he could not possibly be an Outlaw himself — they do not accept African-Americans as members.)

It remains to be seen if West will this interesting once he gets on to the mundane tasks of representing his district in Congress, although being a black Republican will surely get West some media attention no matter what he does.

DID YOU KNOW: South Florida now has three African American representative in the Congress: West; Alcee Hastings, who represents Florida’s 23rd District; and newly-elected Fredrica Wilson, of Florida’s 17th District. The 17th District seek was previously held by Kendrick Meek. Meek ran for the U.S. Senate this year, and lost in a three-way race (that included outgoing Florida governor Charlie Christ) to Marco Rubio.
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Tim Scott, Congressman-elect, 1st District-South Carolina

The other successful Republican African American candidate for U.S. Congress is Tim Scott. Scott will be representing the 1st District of South Carolina. This includes much of the Charleston metro area, although the heavily black parts are in the nearby 6th District. The 6th District is represented by James Clyburn, who is a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Clyburn is the current House Majority (Democratic Party) Whip, which is one of the leadership positions among House Democrats; however, with Republicans taking over the House, his role may change. We'll see.
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Political Miscellany @ 11/4/2009: Is the Obama Coalition “Portable” to Other Democratic Races?

Right after Obama’s presidential election win last November, I made this comment:

Here are my own election winners and losers, plus some “too early to tell” entries…

Too Early to Tell:

Black Voters: They were huge this election. Blacks were 13% of the total vote, up from 10% in 2000 and 11% in 2004. That helped make the difference in close elections for several states.

The question is, can they be depended on in future elections? Or will their turnout drop without Obama at the top of election ballots?

I think a lot more work needs to be done to make black voters a dependable election force, in close elections or elections in the South. Because if they’re not a dependable political force, that lessens their power and influence in the long run.

It will be interesting to see how much of the black vote turns out for the Georgia Senate runoff election between Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss and his opponent, Democrat Jim Martin. Martin has no hope of winning if black voters stay home; we’ll see if they sit this one out.

In the aforementioned Georgia Senate race, Jim Martin did wind up losing, and low black turnout was a factor.

Yesterday, Republicans won the governor’s election in New Jersey and Virginia. In both cases, the young and black voters who were key to Obama’s election success were not decisive in their support for the Democratic candidate.

Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press made these comments:

In another troubling omen for Democrats, the surveys also showed that more of the Virginians who turned out on Tuesday said they supported Republican John McCain in 2008 than said they backed Obama. That suggests the Democrats had difficulty turning out their base, including the swarms of first-time minority and youth voters whom Obama attracted as part of his diverse coalition.

A loss in Virginia could suggest that the diverse coalition that Obama cobbled together last year in Virginia and elsewhere — blacks, Hispanics, young people, independents and Republican crossovers — was a one-election phenomenon that didn’t transfer to the Democratic Party when Obama wasn’t on the ballot.

I share Sidoti’s concern, although I disagree with her comment that the Obama election win was a one hit wonder in terms of pulling together what I call the “Obama coalition” of young, black, Hispanic and independent voters.

Witness, for example, 38-year old Democrat Anthony Foxx in the Charlotte, North Carolina mayoral election. Voters in the city ended more than two decades of Republican leadership in Charlotte Tuesday by electing Foxx, who is the city’s second African-American mayor and the youngest in memory. Foxx won a close race, getting roughly 51 percent of the vote over Republican John Lassiter in unofficial tallies.

Foxx benefitted from a strong black turnout. African Americans are 35% of Charlotte’s population. The Democrats need to find and promote more candidates like him, who appeal to diverse constituents.

The bottom line is, if the Democrats are going to win “the Obama way,” they need to embrace the kinds of voters that put Obama into office. Failure to do so is perilous. Consider these comments from the Washington Post, concerning the election campaign in Virginia governor’s race:

Senior (Obama) administration officials have expressed frustration with how Democrat R. Creigh Deeds has handled his campaign for governor, refusing early offers of strategic advice and failing to reach out to several key constituencies that helped Obama win Virginia in 2008, they say.

A senior administration official said (Democratic gubernatorial candidate R. Creigh) Deeds badly erred on several fronts, including not doing a better job of coordinating with the White House. “I understood in the beginning why there was some reluctance to run all around the state with Barack Obama,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly about the race. “You don’t do that in Virginia. But when you consider the African American turnout that they need, and then when you consider as well they’ve got a huge problem with surge voters, younger voters, we were just a natural for them.”

A second administration official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “Obama, (outgoing Democratic governor Tim) Kaine and others had drawn a road map to victory in Virginia. Deeds chose another path.”

And it goes without saying that black voters can’t afford to be apathetic or unengaged simply because certain kinds of candidates aren’t running. Not everyone who runs for political office is exciting or charismatic. And sometimes it is about voting for the lesser of two evils. Black folks need to be willing to come out to the polls even in those kinds of situations.

Political Miscellany @ 12/2/2008

Greetings. All Other Persons has been out for a while on vacation, but we are back to it. I hope all of you enjoyed your holiday.

OK, we’re just about at the end of the 2008 election season. Here are some political news and notes as we reach the close of what has been an exciting year.

Epic Fail by Black Republican Challenger in Georgia Congressional Election

This is perhaps the ultimate example of throwing good money after bad. The web site OpenSecrets.org discusses a congressional race between two African American candidates in the Atlanta, Georgia area:

Despite raising over four times more than her incumbent opponent, Republican Deborah Honeycutt lost this week by a landslide in the race to represent Georgia’s 13th District. 

Honeycutt, who raised $4.7 million compared to Rep. David Scott’s $1 million, has received a fair share of negative media attention for being a client of BMW Direct, a DC-based fundraising firm.

BMW Direct has come under scrutiny for its strategy of raising handsome sums from conservative donors for Republican candidates who stand little-to-no chance of being elected.

The money raised by Honeycutt is astounding. OpenSecrets.org, which is a product of the Center for Responsive Politics, estimates that “the average cost of winning a House race in 2008 was nearly $1.1 million, based on pre-election finance reports.” Honeycutt quadrupled that level of fund raising for her campaign, and still lost. In no other House race this season did the losing candidate so outspend the eventual winner.

Honeycutt’s opponent, Democrat David Scott, got 69% of the vote, versus 31% for Honeycutt.

The “Vote Shortage” in the Georgia Senate Election on November 5.

In a recent post, I talked about the runoff election for Georgia’s senate seat, which is being waged between Republican incumbent Saxby Chambliss, and Democratic challenger Jim Martin. The runoff election is being held today.

Some post-election analysis of the election voting in Georgia on November 5 shows some very curious numbers:
o President: 1,844,137 votes for Obama
o Senate: 1,757,419 votes for Martin
o All House Races: 1,858,123 votes for Democrats

Martin, a white moderate Democrat from Georgia, got 86,000 less votes than Barack Obama, a black northerner with a liberal background. And that doesn’t make sense. (Note that, even if Martin had gotten that extra 86,000 votes, he still would not have beaten Chambliss.)

In total, there were almost 170,000 more votes for the presidential candidates than there were for the Senate candidates. People are asking, why were there so fewer votes for senator than there were president?

Jay Bookman, writing in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, notes that

More than 168,000 Georgia voters went to the polls on Nov. 4 and cast ballots for president, then walked out without bothering to cast a vote in the highly advertised U.S. Senate race between Saxby Chambliss and Jim Martin.

That seems like a lot — an undervote of 4.3 percent.

In North Carolina, the Senate undervote was 1.1 percent of the presidential total. In Oregon it was 3.3 percent, and 2.3 percent in New Hampshire. The only state where the total approached Georgia’s was Louisiana, at 4.0 percent.

So who were these people? Were they Obama voters who just cast their ballots for their favorite and walked out? The evidence for that is weak. In Fulton County, which went for Obama by more than 2-1, the undervote was 2.85 percent, lower than the undervote rate in McCain counties such as Cobb (3.4 percent) and Cherokee (3.1 percent). In DeKalb County the rate was 4.4 percent, about the state average.

What’s significant about Fulton and DeKalb is that they are Atlanta area counties with a large number of black voters.

This might be a result, at least in part, of the failure of DeKalb County Chief Executive Officer Vernon Jones, who is African American, to endorse Martin’s senate bid. Jones, who lost to Martin in a primary runoff in August, has criticized Martin for not supporting Barack Obama’s presidential run. Martin voted for Democrat John Edwards in Georgia’s February presidential primary even though Edwards already had dropped out of the race.

Early voting in the Geogia runoff election is not promising for Martin, as far as black participation goes. Among those who cast their votes prior to today, in the so-called “early vote,” blacks were 22% of total voters. By comparison, blacks cast almost 35% of the early votes prior to the November 5 election. These numbers could mean that black interest in the runoff election is low… and by extension, that Martin’s odds of winning are not good at all.

African Americans Get Leadership Positions in State Legislatures Out West

It seems like the West is best for black state legislators who seek leadership positions. These are the African American legislators who are presiding or leading officers in American state houses:

o Democrat Emil Jones, Jr., President of the Illinois Senate
o Democrat Karen Bass, Speaker of the California Assembly
o Democrat Peter Groff, President of the Colorado Senate President
o Democrat Terrance Carroll, Speaker of the Colorado (starting in 2009)
o Democrat Steven Horsford, President of the Nevada Senate

(Democrat Malcolm Smith is in-line to become leader of the NY state senate, however, his bid for that position is facing difficulties.)

It is notable that African Americans are less than 7% of the population in California, Colorado, and Nevada, and yet, blacks have risen to high leadership postions in their statehouses.

Meanwhile, the black population in the Deep South states of Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, and South Carolina is between 25-36% of the state total, but none has ever had an African American leader in their state legislatures.

The Wilder Era Comes to a Close in Virginia

Doug Wilder, the trailblazing African American politician from Virginia, is about to end his career as an elected official. In 1990, he became the first African American ever to be elected to governor of an American state.

Wilder, has been serving as mayor of Richmond, Virginia since 2005. He decided not to run for re-election this year.

His successor as Richmond mayor will be Dwight Jones. Jones, who won out over a field of several mayoral candidates with 39% of the vote, is a pastor and leader of the Virginia legislative Black Caucus. He narrowly defeated Richmond City Council president William Pantele after running a campaign centered on education and social justice issues.

Political Miscellany @ 11/17/2008

Black Leaders in the Colorado Legislature Make History

The Colorado legislature has only two black members. But now they are the two most powerful members of the 100-person body.

colorado-legislators
Colorado Rep. Terrance Carroll; Colorado Sen. Peter Groff

Colorado Democrats made legislative history by electing Rep. Terrance Carroll as speaker of the House and re-electing Peter Groff as Senate president.

It will be the first time in American history that the presiding officers of both chambers of a legislature will be African-Americans.

Two Omaha-area Black Women Elected to the Nebraska Legislature

For most of the past 30 years, Nebraska has had only one African-American serving in its single-house legislature. After the November election, it will have two, both female.

cook-and-council
Incoming Nebraska State Senators Tanya Cook and Brenda Council
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Post Election Political Miscellany @ 11/7/08

Barack Obama won the election for president thanks to huge winning margins among black and Hispanic voters. This is from exit poll survey results on the CNN website:

vote-by-sex-and-race
Source: CNN/National Exit Poll

Overall, Obama got 43% of the white vote. By contrast, John Kerry got 41% of the white vote when he ran for president in 2004.

But here’s the thing about the white vote. The electoral map for this election is shown below. The blue sates were won by Obama, the red states by John McCain. Note that, the darker the color, the greater the margin of victory for each of the states:

map-electoral-voting

John McCain won a swath of “deep red” states stretching from Texas and Oklahoma in the southwest to Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama in the southeast. I would bet that outside the South, Obama won half or more of the white vote-a fact that might indicate something about race relations and racial politics in the South versus the rest of the country.
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Political Miscellany @ 7/28/08

The New York Times is reporting a split in the Congressional Black Caucus over legislation that bans certain types of cigarettes.

Right now, tobacco is not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. This means the FDA has limited authority to control the content and sale of cigarettes and other tobacco products. A bill in Congress would provide that authority, but some compromises have been made on this. One such compromise is that although the bill bans flavored cigarettes, menthol cigarettes are exempted from the ban. As noted in the Times article

…the menthol exemption was seen as a necessary compromise to win broad backing for the legislation… the legislation in its current form, with the menthol exemption, has broad support in the House. It also has the backing of many health groups, as well as the nation’s biggest cigarette company, Philip Morris USA, whose support is considered crucial for passage. The company makes Marlboro Menthol, the second-biggest menthol brand.

But menthol has become a politically charged subject in Washington because an estimated 75 percent of black smokers choose mentholated brands. Scientists have long wondered whether menthol might play a role in the disproportionate share of smoking-related cancer among African-Americans…

Caucus Chair Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick says… (CBC) members… are deeply divided on the subject. “The caucus is split,” she said. “We do want to see menthol regulated, but we’re convinced that eliminating or prohibiting menthol would be a killer for the bill.”

Philip Morris over the years has been one of the biggest contributors to the caucus’s nonprofit Congressional Black Caucus Foundation. That financial support, in some years exceeding $250,000, and lesser amounts at times from other cigarette makers, has been the reason some critics perceived an alliance between big tobacco and African-American members of Congress, some of whom were willing to help fend off antitobacco efforts.

Meanwhile, The Hill has a story about CBC members in potentially tough primary races who are hoping to get Barack Obama’s endorsement. Congressman Ed Towns of Brooklyn, NY is in trouble for supporting Hillary Clinton in the primaries, and it appears voters are becoming discontented with him. Congresswoman Carolyn Kilpatrick has been tainted by a scandal involving her son, Kwame Kilpatrick, who is the mayor of Detroit. William Jefferson, the congressman from New Orleans, has been indicted on federal corruption charges.
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Political Miscellany 7/9/08

The NAACP will hold its 99th Annual Convention on July 12-17 in Cincinnati. The theme of the Convention is “Power, Justice, Freedom, Vote.” More than 8,000 NAACP members, delegates and visitors are expected to attend.

Although there are many who doubt the relevance and effectiveness of the NAACP, it still has enough pull to attract two prominent guests: Sen Barack Obama will speak to the convention on July 14, and Sen John McCain will speak on July 16. More information on the Convention is here; but be aware that some of the information at that link is outdated (as of July 8, it incorrectly showed that Obama will speak on July 17… it’s hard to understand why nobody’s updated that web page yet).

Two black Democrats are big-time dark horses in their races for political office-pun intended.

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Political Miscellany 6/20/08

The Hill reported plans by Barack Obama to meet with his fellow Congressional Black Caucus members on Thursday (6/19). Relations within the CBC are said to be strained due to the hotly contested presidential primary. Many members of the CBC backed Sen Hillary Clinton, even though black voters overwhelmingly supported Obama.

Obama previously met privately with a group of religious leaders, including megachurch pastor Bishop T.D. Jakes, and Rev Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The meeting was held to solicit their input on national and world issues, and not necessarily to get their endorsements.

About 30 people were at the meeting. In addition to Jakes, three other prominent members of the black church were present: the Rev. Stephen Thurston, head of the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., a historically black denomination; the Rev. T. Dewitt Smith, president of the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc., which was home to the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders; and Bishop Phillip Robert Cousin Sr., an A.M.E. clergyman and former NAACP board member.

Other reported attendees were conservative Catholic constitutional lawyer Doug Kmiec; evangelical author Max Lucado of San Antonio; Cameron Strang, founder of Relevant Media, which is aimed at young Christians; the Rev. Luis Cortes of Esperanza USA; and Paul Corts, president of the Council of Christian Colleges and Universities.

As they say, politics makes strange bedfellows. Consider the case of Sen Barack Obama and Georgia congressman John Barrow.

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Political Miscellany 6/13/08

The Obama campaign has been facing an onslaught of unsubstantiated smears. One of the most ridiculous is that Obama wasn’t born in the United States, and that he changed his middle name (from, perhaps, Mohammed to Husein?). This led one web site to display a copy of Obama’s birth certificate. The Obama campaign has now created a website to address these malicious rumors: www.fightthesmears.com.

Some black Democrats in NYC who supported Hillary Clinton for president are catching grief. The Brooklyn Ron blog notes that Congressman Ed Towns of Brooklyn will be facing significant opposition from “writer and hip-hop culture exponent Kevin Powell.”

In Louisiana, Donald Cravins, Jr., an African American State Senator from the southwestern part of the state, appears ready to run for Congress against Republican incumbent Charles Boustany in the race for the state’s 7th Congressional district.

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Political Miscellany 6/6/08

Politico.com has a great story, Black lawmakers emotional about Obama’s success. Several black members of Congress are quoted, including Illinois Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr, whose father ran for President in 1984 and 1988:

“I cried all night. I’m going to be crying for the next four years,” he said. “What Barack Obama has accomplished is the single most extraordinary event that has occurred in the 232 years of the nation’s political history. … The event itself is so extraordinary that another chapter could be added to the Bible to chronicle its significance.”

Jack and Jill Politics has a list of of Congressional Black Caucus members who wouldn’t be missed. As stated in their posting:

We started the Congressional Black Caucus Monitor with the precise intention of putting a spotlight on why the Caucus was being infested and infected with DLC tendencies. (The DLC, short for Democratic Leadership Council, is considered the moderate to conservative wing of the Democratic Party. – Ed) When you examined the voting records, you found clear evidence that at least 30% of the Caucus was taking two and few payola from Corporate interests, and it wasn’t even Tom DeLay-type cheddar, either.

The CBC sells out on the cheap, and leave the few remaining warriors hanging in the wind. That is what has to stop.

Jack and Jill Politics also has a link to an article which provides evidence of a smoking gun regarding the Clinton campaign’s use of racial politics to derail the Obama express.

At Daily Kos, there is a very good article titled Gallup: Why McCain and Obama Are tied – For Now. The piece looks at the current polling for Obama and McCain based on geography, age, gender, and political affiliation. Very interesting.

BlackElectorate.com has made ex-offender rights and advancement a major focus of its web site. Clearly, one of the best African American websites on the planet.

So, what has the NAACP done for you lately? It has published the 2008 Presidential Candidates Civil Rights Questionnaire, which highlights the presidential candidates’ positions on what the NAACP has defined as “essential civil rights priorities facing our nation.”

The Questionnaire was sent to Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and Barack Obama. Clinton and Obama responded to the Questionnaire; McCain did not. You can see go here to download the Questionnaire results.

While we’re on the subject: It seems that many people are unaware that the NAACP has chosen a new executive director, Benjamin Jealous. Jealous is a “think outside the box” choice: he’s young (35 years old) and biracial. Still, he has an enviable record of service.

You can get thoughts on the selection from the USAToday’s DeWayne Wickham (New NAACP president’s biggest challenge: Restoring group’s relevancy) and black newspaper columnist Eddie Curry (Looking for the NAACP’s next leader and New Ideas Needed to Invigorate the NAACP).

Did you know: that at least five African-Americans before Obama have mounted serious campaigns for president? The first was then-Rep. Shirley Chisholm in 1972. The most successful was the Rev. Jesse Jackson, who won 30 percent of the delegate votes at the 1988 Democratic National Convention. The Rev. Al Sharpton made a notable run in 2004, as did former Sen. Carol Moseley Braun. Republican Alan Keyes campaigned in 1996 and 2000.

> And props to my pops, who heads an NAACP chapter in upstate NY. Keep the faith, dad.

Political Miscellany 6/3/08

A lot of black politicians supported Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, and that could put their careers at risk. Now that Clinton is on the cusp of losing the nomination race to Barack Obama, it’s being reported that she’s asking Obama to help her peeps out:

In addition to seeking Obama’s help in raising money to pay off some $20 million-plus in debts, Clinton is known to want Obama to assist black officials who endorsed her and who are now taking constituent heat, including, in some cases, primary challenges from pro-Obama politicians.

Speaking of mending fences, an LA Times article talks about how Clinton will need to repair her relationship with black New Yorkers in the aftermath of her election race with Obama.

Even as she continues her longshot presidential bid, Hillary Rodham Clinton faces a political rift in New York, where black leaders say her standing has dropped due to racially charged comments by her and her husband during the campaign. African American elected officials and clerics based in New York City say Clinton will need to defuse resentment over the campaign’s racial overtones if she returns to New York as U.S. senator.

State Sen. Bill Perkins, who represents Harlem, said constituents recently phoned him because they wanted to demonstrate outside Bill Clinton’s Harlem office against comments by the former president.

Belated congratulations to Karen Bass. Bass has become the first black woman to lead a state legislature, by virtue of being selected as Speaker of the California State Assembly. She assumed her duties on May 13, 2008.

Bass is from the 47th District of California, which includes many parts of Los Angeles county, including Westwood, Culver City, and Baldwin Hills. She is the vice chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, and has commissioned a report to research the basic demographic profile of Black Californians including the basic social and economic conditions. The State of Black California report included a statewide organizing effort to involve Black Californians in identifying their concerns and making legislative recommendations.

We wish her the best in her groundbreaking role.

Did you know? Only seven African Americans had previously been selected as head of a state legislature since the Reconstruction:
• Cecil A. Partee (D-Chicago), President of the Illinois Senate (1971-73; 1975-77)
• S. Howard Woodson (D-Trenton), Speaker of the New Jersey Assembly, 1974-75
• K. Leroy Irvis (D-Pittsburgh), Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (1977-79; 1983-89)
• Willie L. Brown. Jr. (D-San Francisco), Speaker of the California Assembly (1981-95)
• Daniel T. Blue, Jr. (D-Raleigh), Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives (1991-94)
• Herb Wesson (D-Los Angeles), Speaker of the California Assembly (2002-04)
• Emil Jones, Jr. (D-Chicago), President of the Illinois Senate (2004-present)

Boyce Watkins of BlackProf.Com has an interesting piece titled Barack Obama Election Advice: Black Denunciations that Just Might Do the Trick. It talks about how Obama has had to play the “denounce/renounce/reject” game because of comments made by people he knows or has known.

As Boyce puts it,

Barack Obama is a nice guy, and I really want to see him have the chance to become president. After all, it appears that we’ve decided that having the first African American integrated into the highest office in the land is more significant than anything we must sacrifice in order to make that happen.[...]

So, I put together a list of suggested denunciations that can keep Senator Obama out of trouble in this campaign. He’s already denounced several black religious leaders and abandoned his church of the last 20 years, so he might as well get rid of anything else that might keep him from having a chance to receive complete validation from America. Black children should learn a lesson from all this: give up whatever you must in order to become successful. You are not quite good enough by being who you are, so you would be wise to disown all threatening aspects of your culture.   ”Mainstream” acceptance (translation: working at a predominantly white university, corporation or media outlet) is what makes you important in this world.  Don’t you forget that.  You can come back and work with black people if you can’t get a job anymore.

1) Medgar Evers…
2) Martin Luther King…
3) The other black “rabble rousers” …

And the list goes on. I think Watkins is going overboard on this. It seems like he’s equating Obama’s criticisms of Rev Wright and Reverend Phleger with being a denunciation of black people and black culture in general. That’s a real stretch.

PS, Obama has invoked the name and message of Rev Martin Luther King, Jr in several of his speeches.