In Louisiana, the GOP is watching closely as a former Democratic black state senator opens a door into the hearts and minds of black voters, while in Illinois a racially-charged email rant by a Republican official is likely to have the reverse effect.
Oh, and there’s a twist. The target of the Illinois politico’s rant is a Republican, too.
Erika Harold is a Republican candidate running in the Illinois 13th Congressional District contest, challenging the Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis. She is a Harvard Law graduate and former practicing attorney, a former Miss America and a black woman.
Last week, the editor of Republican News Watch, an Illinois Republican politics blog, posted a glowing piece about Harold’s official entry into the race. The article prompted 13th Congressional District GOP Chairman Jim Allen – also a member of Rodney Davis’ re-election team – to fire off an email to the editor in which he belittled Harold using racially-charged terms, mocked her personal choice to remain sexually abstinent, and equated her entry into the race with that of a prostitute being used by a pimp.
This is the text (only email addresses and expletives were redacted) of Allen’s email as published at Republican News Watch:
—– Original Message —–
From: Jim Allen <email@example.com>
Sent: 06/18/13 10:59 PM
Subject: 13th Congressional District reply
Rodney Davis will win and the love child of the D.N.C. will be back in S–tcago by May of 2014 working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires.
The truth is Nancy Pelosi and the DEMOCRAT party want this seat. So they called RINO Timmy Johnson to be their pack mule and get little queen to run.
Ann Callis gets a free ride through a primary and Rodney Davis has a battle.
The little queen touts her abstinence and she won the crown because she got bullied in school,,,boohoo..kids are cruel, life sucks and you move on..Now, miss queen is being used like a street walker and her pimps are the DEMOCRAT PARTY and RINO REPUBLICANS…These pimps want something they can’t get,,, the seat held by a conservative REPUBLICAN Rodney Davis and Nancy Pelosi can’t stand it..
Little Queenie and Nancy Pelosi have so much in common but the one thing that stands out the most.. both are FORMER QUEENS, their crowns are tarnished and time has run out on the both of them..
Allen later gave a flat apology to Harold, telling the State Journal-Register, “My comments are very inappropriate and wrong, and I apologize to Miss Harold and her campaign and her supporters.”
The Davis campaign has distanced itself from Allen’s comments and his name was removed from the campaign’s website.
It really doesn’t matter much what a conservative columnist in Washington state has to say about Illinois Republican politics, but I’m going to offer my thoughts anyway.
I find it ironic that Allen presents himself as a great defender of Republican conservatism (vis-à-vis his rabies-grade fervor for Davis) even as he mocks Harold’s suffering considerable slings and arrows during her very public and controversial defense of abstinence.
I also find it easier not to feel sorry for the plight of Illinois Republicans* if they are choosing folks like Allen to positions of leadership.
Beyond the racial tinges in Allen’s attacks, the vicious, condescending tone is certain to feed a beast that Republicans are working hard to starve, the big Democratic lie that independent voters are slow to reject – the well-traveled myth of Republican misogynism and a so-called war on women.
And in the uphill battle Republicans are fighting to gain footholds of credibility among black voters, the timing could not be worse.
African-American Lousiana state Sen. Elbert Guillory recently left the Democratic party to join Republicans. That alone might be a blip on the radar, but Guillory’s authentic criticism of how programs and policies designed and supported by Democrats have hurt black communities (video embedded here) – expressed as part of his philosophy of self-reliance and liberation – is generating a conversation that could jump firebreaks in liberal media and penetrate open minds.
In the video, Guillory reaffirmed that his decision was the right one, delivered a brief history of the Republican party’s record of support for civil rights, called Democratic ideas that black people need the government to get ahead “despicable,” and asked others to join him in “abandoning the government plantation and the party of disappointment.”
Even more symbolism is in Guillory’s Twitter profile bio which reads “Free at last.”
As of the time of this column’s publication, Guillory’s YouTube video has been viewed more than 486,000 times. Viewer reactions are positive by an almost 50 to 1 ratio.
Guillory is certainly not the first black politician or public figure to suggest there’s something inherently bad about Democratic economic and social policies, yet it is striking a chord in a way that previous comments have not.
Would black Democratic leaders have been forced at some point in the near future to answer questions from the media about the nature of Guillory’s criticism? Even the liberal media machine – if only to give left-wing black leaders an opening to label Guillory as an “Uncle Tom” – is liable to invite a discussion about his comments. Those opportunities may still present themselves, but for liberal chatters on MSNBC and CNN, ranting about Allen’s comments is considerably lower hanging fruit and a way to extend smears against Republicans.
As weathered politicos know all too well, it takes only one legitimate race card to taint the entire deck for Republicans. Allen has given Democrats and their supporters in the media a convenient distraction from having to cover Guillory, an infinitely more sympathetic character for Republicans than a misguided mid-level party official from middle Illinois.
Of course, if the usual suspects do want to discuss stupid racist things politicians say, they could begin with these two gems that Democrats would rather forget.
(*Of Illinois’ 18 congressional districts, only 6 are represented by Republicans. Democrats hold one U.S. Senate seats, including the one held by left-wing bombast Sen. Dick Durbin. In the Illinois state Senate, only 19 Republicans stand against 40 Democrats. In the state House it’s worse; Democrats hold 71 seats compared with 47 held by Republicans.
The Illinois governor is a Democrat. The attorney general is a Democrat. You get the picture. Illinoisans despise the Republican brand. The state makes Washington state looks politically red by comparison, and it’s something the Illinois Republicans continue to say they’re serious about wanting to change.)