- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele yesterday said his U.S. Senate campaign aims to bring “the ‘hood” with him to Capitol Hill.

“The ‘hood is going to show up on the Hill,” said Mr. Steele, a black Republican. “That is what this campaign is all about, and that scares some people when I say stuff like that — on both sides of the aisle, God bless them.”

He said he delivered a similar message to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Tennessee Republican supporting Mr. Steele’s candidacy.

“I told him, ‘Be careful what you wish for — a brother shows up, I bring people,’” Mr. Steele said to about 70 supporters at the opening of his state campaign headquarters in Temple Hills. “You have all had one of those picnics, right?”

The remark drew laughter and cheers from the crowd.

Former Prince George’s County Executive Wayne K. Curry attended the event and said the speech echoed Mr. Steele’s “philosophy of opening doors to opportunity” for all races and economic classes.

“There is still disparities between races and classes,” Mr. Curry said. “He is saying that he plans to tackle that. I think these are noble ideas and I think the attention is long overdue.”

Mr. Curry, a Democrat, stopped short of endorsing Mr. Steele, who is the first black person to win statewide office in Maryland.

District Heights Mayor Carol D. Johnson and the Rev. Willie R. Hunt, pastor of New Community Church of God in Christ in Waldorf, also attended the event.

After the speech, Mr. Steele told The Washington Times that his comments were not intended to single out black voters.

“Last time I checked, white people lived in ‘hoods, too,” he said. “It is the same message for everyone. If you want to start a business, that’s not a black thing or a white thing. That’s green, baby. That’s what that’s about.”

Mr. Steele said voters are responding to his message of empowerment.

“The representation you saw here today from this community, from this neighborhood, from around this county is an example of the momentum we have,” he said.

Mr. Steele faces scant opposition in the Sept. 12 Republican primary.

Democrats vying for their party’s nomination for senator are U.S. Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin; Kweisi Mfume, a former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; and Bethesda businessman Josh Rales.

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