Brother From Another Party – Can a black Republican win in a blue state?

BY JAMES TARANTO ANNAPOLIS, Md.–When Michael Steele was running for lieutenant governor in 2002, the Baltimore Sun endorsed the opposing ticket and opined dismissively that Mr. Steele "brings little to the team but the color of his skin." Normally this would be an invidious thing to say about a black politician, but the usual rules of racial etiquette don't seem to apply when it comes to Mr. Steele. For he is a Republican. As he has made his political case, Mr. Steele has again encountered racial prejudice, often from fellow blacks. When I ask him about this, he teases me: "You're hurtin' the brother here. Give the brother a break!" He then tells me about the "Oreo incident," which happened at a 2002 campaign appearance. "After the event was over, I get up out of my seat. . . . Apparently some folks in the audience thought it was humorous to toss some Oreo cookies in my direction. They landed at my feet." Oreos, of course, are a symbol for blacks who are "white inside." Mr. Steele took it in stride. "I turned to the person next to me and asked, 'Got milk?' We kind of joked about it. It's silly." Less silly, last October, after Mr. Steele announced his Senate bid, an Angry Left blogger who is black posted a racist caricature of Mr. Steele with the caption "I's Simple Sambo and I's running for the Big House." What accounts for such hideous invective? "I think for a lot of people, someone like me is considered a threat," says Mr. Steele. A Thursday Washington Post story proves him right. Democratic strategist Cornell Belcher, according to the Post, has produced a 37-page report warning that Mr. Steele has "a clear ability to break through the Democratic stronghold among African American voters in Maryland." Mr. Belcher speculated that Mr. Steele could win as much as 44% of the black vote; by contrast, the 2002 Ehrlich-Steele ticket managed just 23% in majority-black Prince George's County. Mr. Belcher's advice to his party was to hurry up and "knock Steele down." More>> Note from the publisher of African-American Political I Live in Maryland, I'm a former Republican, now a registered democrat, I like Micheal Steele. He may have my vote. To be continued.

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