A look at Black Politics in America from an expert. He's covered the subject for a variety of news outlets and appears across media to help those understand the complexity of this evolving genre of politics.
Friday, September 07, 2012
(Charlotte, NC) Barack Obama is toast. However Novembers election turns out the POTUS will never address a Democratic National Convention again as his party's nominee for the highest office in the land.
The President took in the crowd as he delivered a speech to an awaiting crowd . He scored points for its simplicity and pointed attacks against his opponent. This was not the upstart politician who I first met in 2004. This was the seasoned veteran who had been tested by two wars, vilified by his opponents (trust me they are coming for him again), and humbled by those who came home from the scars of serving overseas.
He had the same charm and warmth, but time has a way of making you reflective. It was clear in several lines from the speech. "I am tied of hearing the line, 'I approved this message.'"As he waved good-bye to the crowd to begin the arduous journey of campaigning for the last time, I could see exhaustion. His followers however are dedicated and give him the energy of a marathon runner who has less than a mile and can see his opponent within striking distance. Those who joined "the Obama Phenomena" were and have been a big part of a movement.
As he exits who will enter from the wings to become the leading man or woman. Inevitably, they will all be compared to the POTUS. They must find their own voice, governing styles and continue to awake an electorate turned off by partisanship.
So, Who's Next?
I put that question to some season veterans reporters and new comers to find out who they are watching and why. The Huffington Post recently tried this idea but, it is a lame list. About the only person I agree with is Corey Booker (FYI, he was my Person of the Year on this blog). I didn't go looking for the usual suspects and neither did my colleagues. Their selections run the gamet from big city mayors, to state legislators, and community activist. They aren't all Democrats (yes, several talked about Republicans). I was intrigued that some of my friends had been watching them since they were teenagers. Lastly, these Reporters/Writers/Bloggers/Pundits aren't just watching Black Politicians they are also looking at others who are part of this great mosaic of America.
I have marveled at how the political process works and there is no rhyme or reason why someone leaps frog another. There is this interesting trait in all their DNA's. They have lost an election that they thought they should have won. For the President it was losing to the Rep. Bobby Rush. I have no idea if any of these individuals will cut through the clutter and you're likely to have your own personal favorite. If you can keep it simple I'd like to know so I can compile a much larger list for the NABJ Media Institute on Political Reporting which we will convene after the election. Look for the email at the bottom.
Clarence Page - Chicago Tribune
Mayor Corey Booker Addressing DNC
The question caught him off guard, but he is quick to note the emergence of Mayor Corey Booker. Booker who has taken the tested city of Newark off "one the worst places to live in New Jersey." Rumor has it he'll run for Governor of the Garden State to challenge the sitting Governor Chris Cristy. Hell, the man ran into a burning building to save a family. "Doesn't that make him Superman."
Denise Clay - "The Mad Political Science Blog"
Philadelphia Councilman David Oh
Clay who's been around and is a savvy watcher of politics. Being from Philadelphia she pointed to her own Mayor Micheal Nutter who is doing everything in his power to get attention. The Blogger/Journalist is smart enough to know "those are the usual suspects." When pressed she pointed to a Philadelphia Councilman David Oh. He's a Republican and happens to Asian. He is the first Asian to be on the Philadelphia City Council. "He realized early, if you don't work with the other party you're not going to get anything done."
Gromer Jeffers - Dallas Morning News
Mayor Julian Castro
The demographics in Texas are changing at lightening speed. Some usually reliable GOP districts are turning blue. The biggest question mark is the Hispanic/Latino populations in the state. Despite efforts to limit their influence they are flexing their muscle. Jeffers' points to San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro (FYI, he has a twin brother, Joaquin). Mayor Castro was given a prime time speaking assignment at the DNC. Don't count out Texas legislator Marc Veasey. Veasey has broken through a unique trend. While running for congress he won in a majority Hispanic district. The Dallas area will now be represented by a pair of Black Congressional Representatives. Jeffers' made one of the boldest predictions from our group. Texas will go from a reliably Red to Blue. "The demographics dictate that Texas will turn Blue it's just a matter of when."
Condace Pressley - WSB Radio Atlanta
Pressley points to her own Mayor, Kasim Reed. Mayor Reed follows in the foot steps of legendary mayors from Atlanta. As Mayor he is often called on to defend the POTUS programs on the Sunday Political Talk Shows. This has given him a national profile that others envy.
I met this young man while waiting for a shuttle bus to go to the Charlotte Convention Center. He is a media entrepreneur (he thinks of himself as Blogger). He lives in the Bay area. He comes from the grand tradition of Frederick Douglass, "power concedes nothing without a demand." He's young and dynamic, and I love it (thanks for turning me on to Tout). He suggests Oakland Councilwoman Libby Schaaf. Abraham says he urged her to run for Mayor of Oakland, instead she ran for City Council and won with 73 % of the vote. According to the Blogger, she is the only homegrown member of the Oakland city council. "She eats, sleeps, and drinks Oakland 24 hours a day...but bends toward the conservative side."
Richard Muhammad - The Final Call
I have known Richard for nearly 20 years. We meet during Nelson Mandela's first trip to the United States. It is always a pleasure to see him and talk politics. His choice was LeAllan Jones who is a member of the Green Party. Muhammad says the Chicago native was profiled in the NPR series Ghetto Life 101. He told his story of growing up in the notorious Cabrini Green Projects on Chicago's Northside - he was barely a teenager. He graduated from college. In 2010 he ran for the United States Senate in Illinois. He lost that race. "Has a great amount of political potential. He has a great heart and love for Black people and wants to change.
Micheal Steele - MSNBC
Most people know this contributor as the Former Chair of the RNC. I met him many years ago when I asked a perennial Baltimore GOP Mayoral Candidate, Victor Clarke, who should I be watching? He pointed to Steele. That was 1988. As if on que Steele was ready. Mia Love from Utah "is the flavor of the month." Steele had been trying to build a bench of Black Republicans while he was with the RNC. He has nurtured the next crop of GOP hopefuls.He's putting his money on a pair of individuals, Rufus Montgomery from Atlanta, and Angela Sailor who works on the RNC political side. There has been an uneasiness between the party and communities of color in general. "The party has got to respond to that they've got to reach out to them; they've got to embrace them; they've got to pump up their leadership and opportunity... the country is changing and its demographics are changing. We need to adapt.
Charles Robinson -Maryland Public Television
Now I'll put on my Maryland political hat. The center of Maryland's Black politics has been Baltimore, but it is shifting to Prince Georges County. The first person I want to talk about is Lt. Governor Anthony Brown. Brown says he is exploring a run for Governor. There's a problem. No Lt. Governor has ever been elected to be Governor. The other is Angela Alsobrooks, the Prince Georges County State's Attorney. She brought down the counties crime rate through tough prosecutions, but has done it in an that is understated way.
Lastly, if you've got some ideas you can post them in the comments section or try me at firstname.lastname@example.org