Day By Day

Friday, January 20, 2006

Maryland Politics -- Cardin's Mfume Problem

Dustin Hawkins analyzes the Democrats' dilemma in the upcoming Senatorial race. The Republicans are running a black candidate, Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, while the Democrats face a primary battle to choose their candidate. Six Democrats have declared, but only two matter. The Democrat establishment is united behind Rep. Ben Cardin, a white man, but he is being challenged by former Rep. and President of the NAACP, Kweisi Mfume. Hawkins notes:

Had Mfume not entered the race, most of the worries of losing large voting blocs would have been avoided. Without Mfume in the mix, Cardin would have been viewed as the candidate most qualified to run for the seat and his nomination would not have been seen as yet another denial of the Democratic Party to select black candidates for higher office in statewide elections.

But by staying in the race, and as a former congressman himself, Mfume is undoubtedly a credentialed, qualified candidate. If the Democratic Party establishment dismisses Mfume, both nationally and statewide, the repercussions in the general election could be enough to swing the election.

Read it here.

There is a real danger here for Democrats. They cannot be perceived as neglecting their base in the Black community, but rejecting Mfume in favor of a White candidate would ratify that perception. The Cardin camp's tactic so far has consisted of a scurrilous whispering campaign against Kweisi, trying to portray him as a "bad man." [Not my words, but those of a promient Democrat contributor.] It might work.

Actually, Kweisi, who has consistently tried to reach out across racial and partisan boundaries, would be preferable to Cardin, who is a partisan hack, but odds are that he will fail against a united Democrat establishment. If that should happen, it could open the way for Michael Steele to become the Republican Barak Obama.

Things are getting interesting.

Stay tuned.

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