Continued from page 1

And Ford O’Connell, a GOP consultant, said he didn’t know that the party has changed on crime as much as the rest of the nation has.

” ‘Felony’ does not carry the same stigma it once did,” he said. “Hence, the difference in classification between ‘violent’ and ‘nonviolent’ felonies.”

Both Mr. Kidd and Mr. O’Connell acknowledged potential electoral consequences among the black community for the GOP — not necessarily as justification for the shift, but a potential effect.