Historical election cycle underway

Contributed by Warren Mowry

Much media attention was focused, justifiably, on Nikki Haley’s runaway win in the Republican gubernatorial primary runoff. But the national punditry is only now realizing that another historical race took place Tuesday – Tim Scott’s victory as the GOP candidate for Congress in the 1st Congressional District. I am not much for symbolism, but the nomination of a black Republican – the first since Reconstruction, and in a district including Charleston, the cradle of the Confederacy – is too powerful to overlook.

Scott, a longtime Charleston county councilman before being elected to the state House in 2008, had already made history. According to the Charleston Post and Courier, he was the first black elected as a Republican since 1900. Scott said that what his margin of victory in the runoff demonstrates— he captured 68 percent of the vote in the runoff in a district that is about 21% African American— “is that conservatives are colorblind when it comes to electing conservatives. They care about ideas and ideals. Period.” Well said.

But Scott may not be alone as a black Congressional Republican. There have been some 32 candidates in Senate and House races nationally. In fact, there was an article that noted how President Obama had inspired many blacks to run for public office – as Republicans. Obama inspires black politicians to seek office — as Republican candidates | The Daily Caller – Breaking News, Opinion, Research, and Entertainment. Of course, a lot of them have been, or will be winnowed out in the primary process, but a number are favorites, not only to gain the nomination, but perhaps to win in November. This is causing the political tectonic plates to shift.

Two candidates in particular bear mention – Bill Hardiman, a Michigan state senator, running to replace the retiring Republican Vern Ehlers, and Allen West, the retired Army lieutenant colonel who is challenging Ron Klein in the 22nd District in southern Florida. West drew national attention when this video went viral in April: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4g8lxEPLQE

And the delicious irony will be that, if these conservatives take office in January, it will expose the Congressional Black Caucus to be exactly what retired Congressman J.C. Watts said it was, several years ago, when he was refused membership in the supposedly “non-partisan” group: “…they said that I had sold out and Uncle Tom. And I said well, they deserve to have that view. But I have my thoughts. And I think they’re race-hustling poverty pimps.”

To paraphrase Bette Davis’ line – buckle your seatbelt, it’s going to be a heck of a ride.

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