Eleven African-Americans Are on the Ballot as Republicans in Alabama’s June Primary

Bill McCollum
Bill McCollum

The Alabama Republican Party says 11 black candidates are running in the GOP primary on June 3, and officials say that shows the party is making strides with African Americans.

State Republican Party Chairman Bill Armistead, who hired a full-time minority outreach director last year, said he thinks the GOP can build on the number.

“It’s by far the largest we’ve ever had,” Armistead said. “Is it where we want to be? No. We will have more in the future.”

Republicans hold every statewide office in Alabama and a majority in the Legislature, but none of those seats are held by black Republicans.

Joe Reed, longtime leader of the Alabama Democratic Conference, said blacks won’t move to the Republican Party on any significant scale because of GOP opposition to programs such as Obamacare, raising the minimum wage, extending long-term unemployment benefits and other “bread and butter” issues that Reed said help working families.

There are five black Republican candidates for the state House of Representatives, one for the Public Service Commission, two for sheriff, two for seats on county commissions and one for a county school board seat, according to Troy Towns, minority outreach director for the state GOP. Another black Republican is running in a special election to fill a vacant House seat in Birmingham to complete a current term..

Towns said there was only one black Republican in the 2010 primary and one in 2012. He thinks this year’s number is not a fluke, but a sign of things to come.

“The thing that makes this so impressive is that it destroys the paradigm that blacks cannot be Republicans or run for office as Republicans,” Towns said. “I think that’s big news in a state like Alabama.”

Some of the black Republicans are recent converts.

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Source: AL.com | Mike Cason | mcason@al.com 

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