Elbert Guillory, a black Republican state legislator from Louisiana, has taken his show on the road.
Guillory came to fame through a recent video attacking incumbent U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat locked in a tight re-election race. Walking in a sharp three-piece suit through an impoverished area near where he grew up, Guillory said that Landrieu has failed to actually help the black community that has consistently supported her for the eighteen years she has held office. His commentary is withering: “You’re not Mary’s cause—and you’re certainly not her charity. You are just a vote. Nothing less and nothing more. For her, you are just a means to an end so that she remains in power.”
Guillory, whose FreeAtLast PAC has managed to raise a few hundred thousand dollars since the video hit YouTube, has now brought his message to black voters in Arkansas, North Carolina, and Georgia. Versions of the ad appeared during statewide broadcasts of the New Orleans Saints-Carolina Panthers game Thursday night, the Florida-Georgia game Saturday, and the Arkansas-Mississippi State game Saturday night.
For a long time, the conventional Republican wisdom when it came to the black community was remarkably defeatist. Jack Kemp, the GOP’s 1996 vice presidential candidate, made a good faith effort to earn black voters with a message of empowerment, by touting things like tax rebates to create investment and jobs in inner cities. But it more or less failed to move the needle. And since the arrival of Barack Obama on the political scene, Democrats have claimed no less than 95 percent of the black vote, which constitutes a growing portion of the electorate.
Guillory takes a markedly different approach. He isn’t touchy-feely, and he makes no promises to the black community of a better life under a Republican Senate. All he does is challenge—devastatingly—the Democrats’ unfulfilled promises of prosperity based on Uncle Sam, a message that harkens all the way back to Malcolm X’s “political chump” speech from 1965.
The Louisiana race offers Guillory a chance to show that in-your-face facts will help the GOP connect better than soft talk about Enterprise Zones and tax credits to keep families together.