More blacks run for office as Republicans

Breanne George

Democrats might be losing their grip on the African-American vote.

According to the National Black Republican Association, there are currently 45 black Republican candidates running for state and federal offices across the nation.

Some prominent candidates include Ken Blackwell, the current Secretary of State, who is running for governor of Ohio, and Lynn Swann, former Pittsburgh Steelers football player, who is running for governor of Pennsylvania.

College Republicans President Matt White said there is a more diverse group of Republicans running today than at any other time in U.S. history.

“I think it represents a major shift,” he said. “It’s not just happening in one limited area, but a wide-spread movement across the country.”

Blacks have notoriously voted for the Democratic Party, although the Republican Party was formed around the fight against slavery.

Frances Rice, chairman of the National Black Republican Association in Washington, D.C., formed the NBRA to educate the black community on the Republican Party using a grassroots effort.

Rice said many blacks are not aware that the Republican Party has a long history of fighting for civil rights.

“They fought against slavery, the Jim Crow laws and the black codes,” she said. “If it weren’t for Republicans, civil rights legislation would never have been passed.”

Political science professor Vernon Sykes said he believes there is an increase in blacks running for prominent positions but not an increase in blacks supporting the Republican Party.

Sykes, an African-American Democrat with a long history of political service, is running for the Ohio legislature.

Sykes said the media has given increased attention to these minority candidates, a concern of the Democratic party, which does not want to lose its traditional voters.

Ironically, the social programs, which worked to create a growing black middle class, may actually be working against the Democratic party, political science professor Thom Yantek said. As middle-class African-Americans become economically secure, their allegiances to the Democratic party diminish because they are no longer in need of government assistance.

Yantek said he believes demographically there is not a huge number of blacks running as Republican candidates, but he said it does not take a huge number of people to influence political change.

“If 10 percent of the African American community would suddenly realign and become permanent members of the Republican Party, that would give them a major leg up,” he said. “Given the fact that the party has been able to control the government with the slim majorities.”

Yantek said an increase in black turn-out for Republican candidates creates a more balanced two-party system and allows both political parties a chance to bid for the black vote.

“If they only ever vote for one party, the party they vote for will take them for granted and the other party will write them off and say ‘we’ll never get their vote so why try,'” he said.

Contact student politics reporter Breanne George at [email protected].