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6.6.06

Flood of GOP Shreveport mayor hopefuls may doom race tactic

The floodgates have released with candidates coming out of the woodwork for Shreveport’s mayor’s job – and so has controversy in the form of race-baiting politics that tells us something about the people applying to the voters for the position.

As Shreveport, a city with a history of minimal cross-racial voting in elections, looks citywide to have white and black voter registration just about even come election day in the fall, a disturbing strategy has emerged in the mayor’s contest. Some activists, at least one identified with connections to television executive Democrat Ed Bradley’s campaign, have passed out materials condemning blacks who would even think of supporting a white candidate in the contest, and attack those who work with white politicians.

As sad as that might be, worse yet is that Bradley so far publicly has refused to condemn the specific act, although he has issued a general statement renouncing the concept of race-based electoral appeals. This not only raises the issue of hypocrisy with Bradley, as an implicit theme of his campaign is he supposedly strives for cross-racial appeal, but also that the tactic of urging a vote primarily on the basis of race will become legitimized if not a decisive factor in this contest.

Some in the community we may identify as “angry blacks” have this as their primary goal. They feel that the vast majority of the problems in the black community are attributable to whites (particularly Republicans and/or conservatives) having political power. Any black who thinks for himself and thereby chooses to support a white and/or Republican and/or conservative candidate to them is a race traitor deserving of the highest scorn.

They wish to create such an attitude as a way to exert pressure on blacks not to “break ranks” so to speak and not to support a “genuine” black candidate, because the electoral math they believe for the first time ever is on their side. That would be true – if they have such a simplistic, unrealistic worldview which imagines a world where whitey votes into office white conservatives to visit more plagues on blacks, and so blacks must defend themselves against these devils by voting as a solid bloc for black liberals who have minimal connections to white officials (while they consider black conservatives as turncoats selling out their own race).

Shamefully, Bradley seems to have given unspoken permission to go after this angry black vote – probably by way of political opportunism since his major competitor, Democrat state Rep. Cedric Glover, historically has avoided such divisive politics and last week condemned them in no uncertain terms. Rather than taking the opportunity to act as a uniter, Bradley chooses to be a divider by this tactic of convenience. However, whether this will work to bring Bradley victory is another matter.

Glover himself has been slammed publicly by the angry black cadre as being too “accommodationist” to the white devils. Understand this group’s agenda: by using racial appeals to fuse a black solidarity, they hope to push Bradley into a runoff with a white candidate, and then these same appeals so with superior numbers this will propel Bradley to victory.

However, Republicans may be doing a good job of sabotaging that strategy through their own enthusiasm over placing candidates into the contest. Already in the contest are former City Attorney Jerry Jones and city Economic Development Coordinator Arlena Acree, along with longer-shot Vernon Adams who drew 25 percent of the vote in the 2002 contest. State Sen. Max Malone may join them in about a month, on the evidence that he will hold a fundraiser soon and cannot commit that money to a Senate run given his term-limit status. There are other offices he may be contemplating, but the most logical would be that of mayor.

And now, the imminent entrance of Shreveport city spokeswoman Liz Swaine to the contest will divide the white vote even further. With three other serious candidates in the contest plus a fourth Republican, it’s possible that the conservative vote will become so fragmented that both black candidates will make the general election runoff. And Bradley can count on diminishing white support as long as he and his campaign refuse to denounce the racist materials being distributed, giving Glover a clear win in this scenario.

No matter how you look at it, Bradley’s refusal to distance himself from the material seems more and more a losing gambit. Not only does it demonstrate poor judgment on his part as a potential governor of a large urban city, but it seems to show inferior political tactics as well. Which really begs the question, is Bradley so hypocritical and naïve to believe in this strategy? And is that the kind of person Shreveport wants as mayor?

1 comment:

Adrian said...

i.e. more evidence that no small amount of the fuel poured on the fire of "race-relations" to keep the flames stirred up, is really just politicians (or wannabes) without a leg to stand on, stooping to low down dirty race baiting tactics - for shame.

p.s. it wasn't up at the time of this blog post, but one of the candidates for Shreveport Mayor, Jerry Jones' website isn't mentioned (nor linked) above. It's http://www.jonesmayor.com/