Why America Needs More Black Senators and Governors

Kamala Harris, Ben Jealous CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE; CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES
Kamala Harris, Ben Jealous
CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE; CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES

Little known fact; the crab state of Maryland has one of the highest percentages of black populations in the United States. Theoretically, you might think that would make it one of the more powerful black political blocs in the land.

Yet, while the state is nearly 33 percent African American, it’s never had an African American governor or U.S. Senator.

“It’s embarrassing Maryland can’t elect African Americans statewide with the number of black votes it has,” says Peter Groff, a former President of the Colorado State Senate who now advises black state legislators.

Not for lack of trying: three black men (two Democrats and one Republican) have made three failed statewide attempts since 2006.  With U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) announcing her exitfrom politics, now would be the time to change that equation.

But, instead, the state’s dominant Democratic political machine seems settled on another white guy. Wasting little time, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) gave his old boy blessing to Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), the first to announce his run for the seat.

Something is wrong with that picture. There is a very deep pool of black political talent in Maryland, almost all Democratic, save the Republican Lt. Governor. There are two influential members of Congress, the mayor of Baltimore and a number of legislators in the state house.

A source close to former NAACP president Ben Jealous claims that even he’s mulling a bid, a risky play in a state that’s widely known for its rigid stand-in-line machine politics. But Jealous could change the game with his vast grassroots network and proven fundraising prowess as leader of one of the largest Get out the Vote operations in the country.

“The fact that the Democratic Party would consider pushing a white male candidate to replace Mikulski really challenges their claim as the party of inclusion,” the source told The Root on condition of anonymity.  “No one’s saying they should give black people a coronation, just saying they should give people a fair shot instead of rushing it.”

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Source: The Root | 

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