Black Hopefuls Pick This Year in G.O.P. Races
By JENNIFER STEINHAUER
Published: May 4, 2010
Among the many reverberations of President Obama’s election, here is one he probably never anticipated: at least 32 African-Americans are running for Congress this year as Republicans, the biggest surge since Reconstruction, according to party officials.
Allen West, running in Florida, says the notion of racism in the Tea Party movement has been made up by the news media.
But now black Republicans are running across the country — from a largely white swath of beach communities in Florida to the suburbs of Phoenix, where an African-American candidate has raised more money than all but two of his nine (white) Republican competitors in the primary.
Party officials and the candidates themselves acknowledge that they still have uphill fights in both the primaries and the general elections, but they say that black Republicans are running with a confidence they have never had before. They credit the marriage of two factors: dissatisfaction with the Obama administration, and the proof, as provided by Mr. Obama, that blacks can get elected.
“I ran in 2008 and raised half a million dollars, and the state party didn’t support me and the national party didn’t support me,” said Allen West, who is running for Congress in Florida and is one of roughly five black candidates the party believes could win. “But we came back and we’re running and things are looking great.”
But interviews with many of the candidates suggest that they felt empowered by Mr. Obama’s election, that it made them realize that what had once seemed impossible — for a black candidate to win election with substantial white support — was not.
“There is no denying that one of the things that came out of the election of Obama was that you have a lot of African-Americans running in both parties now,” said Vernon Parker, who is running for an open seat in Arizona’s Third District. His competition in the Aug. 24 primary includes the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle, Ben Quayle.