- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 10, 2002

Black Republicans made history last week by winning two lieutenant governors' races, marking the first time they have held the spot in two states concurrently.
Maryland's Michael S. Steele and Ohio's Jennette Bradley rode the Republican tide to victory Tuesday, renewing Republican hopes of raising the party's profile among traditionally Democratic black voters.
Their victories took the sting out of what was previously seen as a slow year for Republican black candidates. This year marks the retirement of Rep. J.C. Watts Jr. of Oklahoma, the only black Republican in Congress, and Colorado Lt. Gov. Joe Rogers, the highest-ranking black Republican in a statewide office.
"This was very special," said Alvin Williams, president of the conservative Black America's Political Action Committee. "We're certainly proud of Michael Steele he's someone we've known for years, and we're proud of him making history."
In Texas, Republican Michael Williams was re-elected to the state Railroad Commission, where he is chairman.
"We're making more inroads," said Pamela Mantis, Republican National Committee spokeswoman. "Once they see these people at the state and local level, they'll be encouraged to support them for national office."
On the flip side, none of the six black Republicans vying for Congress won their races Tuesday, despite strong showings in some contests. Nevada's Lynette Boggs McDonald, for example, took 43 percent of the vote in her effort to unseat Democratic Rep. Shelly Berkley, who won with 54 percent.
Florida's Jennifer Carroll captured 40 percent of the vote in her contest against Democratic Rep. Corrine Brown, even though Mrs. Carroll only entered the race in July. In Mississippi, Republican Clinton LeSueur won 44 percent of the vote to Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson's 54 percent.
But conservatives were intrigued by what they saw as a lack of enthusiasm for Democratic candidates by black voters. Democrats have complained that one reason for their poor showing in last week's midterm election was that black voters failed to turn out in large numbers.
"I know Democrats around the country are saying they're disappointed by the black voter turnout," said Niger Innis, spokesman for the conservative Congress for Racial Equality in New York. "They're saying the reason Republicans were so successful is that their core constituency wasn't energized."
In Maryland, for example, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Kathleen Kennedy Townsend received 90 percent of the black vote, but that turnout was lower than expected. She ultimately lost a close race to Mr. Steele and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rep. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.
"We could have seen a big difference if African Americans had been motivated to vote," Alvin Williams said.
CORE Chairman Roy Innis blamed the lack of interest on the Democratic Party's playing of the race card. He pointed to singer Harry Belafonte's remarks comparing black Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to a "house slave," which he believes offended black voters.
"It's racism fatigue," Mr. Innis said.
Added Mr. Innis, "It's hard to sell George Bush as a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan when you've got Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice on his staff."
Miss Mantis pointed to a survey showing that 40 percent of black voters said the Democratic Party was taking them for granted. "I think they were tired of that, and they decided either not to vote or to vote Republican," she said.
A spokesman for the Democratic National Committee did not return a phone call last week, but Chairman Terry McAuliffe complained about what he described as efforts by Republicans to intimidate black voters.
What was most encouraging were black Republican victories at the local level, Mr. Williams said. His PAC, which supports mainly black conservatives, chalked up victories with about 30 percent of its candidates.
"We're especially pleased about state and local victories because they're the farm of the future," Mr. Williams said.

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