Friday, April 14, 2006

Clear as Black and White

Via Booker Rising, I came across this analysis of Maryland's (my Maryland) Senate election. The author, Robert George, is a Black Republican, and he criticizes the state and national Democratic party for getting behind Rep. Benjamin Cardin (who is White) in the primary, as opposed to former Rep. (and NAACP President) Kweisi Mfume.
The fact is that Mfume is well-positioned, if he so chooses, to play hardball with the Democratic establishment. If anything, the DNC memo could be interpreted as saying that black voters refuse to be taken for granted in the Democratic-heavy state. If the Democrats don't want to nominate a black candidate, African Americans can still support one of their own in the general election.

There are...problems with the post though. For one, its rather amusing to my ears to hear a Conservative using the "one of their own" rhetoric." Isn't that the type of radical, anti-integrationist rhetoric conservative Blacks decry from their liberal peers? What's good for the goose...

The second problem is that there really isn't any analysis on why Mfume is a better candidate than Cardin. I'm not following the race that closely, but I have heard murmurings that Mfume is not a particularly strong campaigner. In an update to the post, Mr. George responds to a study showing that White Republicans and Independents are more likely to vote Democrat when the Republicans run a Black candidate by arguing that in many of these cases the candidate might just be a sacrificial throw-away, not a serious performer. That may or may not be true (I doubt it can explain the whole thing), but it does seem to mandate at least some analysis on George's part as to whether Mfume is a solid candidate in his own right. And he really can't bring himself to compliment the guy, calling him a "conventional liberal" who was a better leader in the NAACP than the "insane" Julian Bond. High praise, that is. And there is absolutely nothing written about Cardin in the piece--how can we evaluate who the Democrats pick without a comparison to the leading candidate?

Part of the "problem" (and what a problem to have!) is that the Democrats in Maryland have a really deep bench. In many places, Mfume would be a tier-one candidate, as he deserves to be. Unfortunately, this is Maryland, and we have a lot of rising stars peaking right about now. Montgomery County Executive Doug Duncan and Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley are both extraordinarily popular in their home territories, and I think both of them stand a chance of unseating Governor Bob Ehrlich. That primary is one of the rare cases where my "reluctant" support of a candidate (O'Malley) is not due to a personal shortcoming on his part, but rather because both men are absolutely stellar politicians and deserve advancement. And beyond Cardin and Mfume, many people were floating my Representative, Chris Van Hollen, for Sarbanes' open seat as well. He withdrew his name from consideration, but he's considered a front-runner for Mikulski's seat when she retires. I should note that Duncan and Van Hollen, like me, both are from the DC suburb part of Maryland--the part that George says has "little connection to the broader Maryland." Ah, it's good to be excluded from my own home state.

In any event, this post shouldn't be taken as an endorsement of Cardin over Mfume, or vice versa. As I said, I'm not informed enough on the merits of the two candidates. But I don't think George does a particularly good job of explaining why Mfume is the right man for the Democratic party. Color me unconvinced.

1 comment:

jack said...

I'm still undecided (in all the races) but I'm pretty sure George want Mfume to win- not because he's the better canidate, or even because he's black, but because Cardin has consistently polled better than him head to head with Steele. Mfume also has a bit of a shady past, children out of wedlock, charges of favoritism- all sort of things that will get dug up in the general if Mfume is the nominee. I think either one beats Steele but Cardin is pretty much a shoe-in. Mfume would make it close.