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.

Cravins ran for this district in 2004, and got 67,389 votes in an all-party primary; fellow (and female) Democrat Willie Mount got 69,079 votes, and headed to the primary runoff election to face Boustany.

However, Cravins refused to endorse Mount for the runoff race. Cravins was upset that the state Democratic Party had mailed a “unity ballot”/election guide to voters which included Mount’s name, but not his. That might have been a factor in Cravins’ narrow primary defeat to Mount.

Cravins’ failure to endorse Mount probably hurt Mount with black voters in the runoff. Boustany beat Mount by a margin of 55%-45%.

For this year’s campaign, Cravins considered running not as a Democrat, but as an independent. The reason? “When a black candidate runs in a majority-white district, it seems that the state party always backs away… They say they don’t want to waste their resources. That’s the perception, and it was all about strategy for me. I wasn’t going to get beat up.” Apparently, Cravins was fearful that that the Democrats were going to promote a white candidate, and didn’t want to wait for party support that wasn’t going to come. But now the state party seems poised to back Cravins’ candidacy.

It remains to be seen how well Cravins will do. The district is over 70% white, and voting in the state is racially polarized: whites tend to vote Republican, blacks tend to vote Democratic. Cravins has been touting conservative positions, in an clear attempt to connect with white voters – much to the chagrin of area progressives.

Next Tuesday, Maryland will hold a special election to fill the seat of former Rep Albert Wynn. Wynn, who served as congressman to the majority black 4th Congressional District outside the District of Columbia, vacated his seat effective May 31st after suffering a primary loss to Donna Edwards.

Edwards will run in the special election against Republican Peter James. A win there will allow her to fill out the end of Wynn’s term. She will then have to compete against James again in the November general election. Edwards is heavily favored to win both contests.

Edwards is something of an Obama-type candidate, in that she doesn’t come from the “typical” urban/Southern black background. Her father served in the military, and her family moved around a lot while she was growing up. Also like Obama, she is a lawyer, and has appealed equally well to blacks and whites.

Although she has not previously held elective office, Edwards has worked extensively in community service organizations. I think it’s fair to say she was the (sexist wording alert) darling (sexist wording alert) of the progressive community.

Meanwhile, the former incumbent, Albert Wynn, had become very unpopular. Many saw him as beholden to corporate interests. He lost the March primary to Edwards by a margin of 60% to 35%.

We wish Ms Edwards well.

California has four black members of the House of Representatives, all of whom, by the way, are female. But their holds on their seats may be tenuous in the long term.

All four of the representatives reside in districts where blacks are in the minority. The numbers are:
• Barabara Lee, CA-9 (Oakland): 35.2% white, 26.0% black, 18.7% Hispanic
• Diane Watson, CA-33 (Los Angeles): 34.6% Hispanic white, 29.9% black, 19.9% white
• Maxine Waters, CA-25 (Los Angeles): 47.4% Hispanic white, 34.1% black, 10.4% white
• Laura Richardson, CA-27 (Los Angeles): 43.2% Hispanic white, 24.8% black, 16.6% white

As Latino voters become more of a force, these four will face more and more challenges. The best case scenario is that they build alliances with Latino voters and/or with the white voters in their districts. The worst case is that conflicts with those other ethnic blocs will occur, and that might cause these congresswomen to lose jobs. Perhaps not this year, but somewhere down the road.

The Jack and Jill Politics blog takes exception to some black politicians who criticize black blogs. (OK, can you say that three times, real fast?) Of note, from Jesse Jackson:

Our struggle today is that we are free, but not equal. You will not close that gap with a YouTube mobilization.

Internet bloggers can serve the meal better than they can farm. Farming requires tilling the soil, removing the debris, planting, being patient, letting it germinate. That’s the strength of labor unions and churches and civil rights organizations.

But JJP wasn’t having that:

Now, as a result of the successes (of black Internet activists), and others on the way, the Old Guard is whining that we’re not respecting them. That we’re saying they’re irrelevant. I don’t think I’ve read where we said we didn’t need them anymore; I think we are urging them to rest on their laurels and show us how to carry the mantle of Civil Rights, political activism and demands for seats at the table of political and social civil discourse on a grander scale. We’ve never asked them to go away.

Ever see two people driving a car; I mean with both of their hands on the steering wheel? It cannot be done – that’s why cars are built with ONE steering wheel and a passenger seat. Someone has to drive and others have to ride. I believe we’ve asked for permission to learn how to drive the car now, and just like old deacons, deaconess, old Pastors in church, they want to hang on until they physically die and kill the movement right along with them. They won’t allow us to learn how to drive the car, and then they get upset when we take the keys and teach our damned selves how to put the car in gear and speed off.

Yesterday was the anniversary of Loving vs Virginia – the Supreme Court case that allowed Americans the freedom to marry whomever they choose. Folks are calling it Loving Day. As pointed out at one site: “Barack Obama’s parents would have been criminals in sixteen states when he was born, for the simple act of being married.”

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