Thursday, January 7, 2010

Harold Ford Jr. potentially running for New York senate seat: Can a black politician with a white wife get elected?

“The Black masses must demand and refuse to accept nothing less than that proportionate share of political jobs and appointments which are equal to their proportion in the electorate.” - Congressman Adam Clayton Powell

Yesterday I woke up to Morning Joe on MSNBC to hear that my man Harold Ford Jr. is considering running for a senate seat in a New York district. As a New York transplant currently living in Memphis TN., his hometown, I thought it to be a good move for several reasons. Some of you may not be up on the brother, but if you remember the midterm election in 2006. The GOP's racist tactics as he ran for the senate against Bob Corker in his home state of Tennessee, played heavily into the campaign; enough so, to create controversy nationally.

Remember this:

In the ad the RNC pulled the race card by subtly injecting the almost naked looking white woman with the "Harold, call me," line. A line which many people here in the state and nationally took offense to as we saw it as over the top as far as dirty politics goes. But I guess the issue of race will never escape a black man with political aspirations. There was another black man who in 2008 ran into the issue of race in his campaign who eventually became president, remember?

The Race Factor

This is why it's my belief that Harold has a better shot becoming a senator representing the state of New York than he ever would representing the state of Tennessee. And let's just say that the fact that New York state is a little bit more liberal and less redneck-ish would be a plus for the brother. In 2006, then Congressman Ford polled at 48% in a state where the black population is less than 20%. But not everybody thinks like me. Danielle Belton over at The Black Snob is of the opinion that Ford doesn't have a shot in New York for several reasons - mainly, because he's married to a white woman. A valid question, considering the issue of race and politics:
If Ford does run for Senate in New York this will test a long-held theory of mine that it is PRETTY DAMN HARD to get elected if you're a black politician with a white wife. Not only do you have to deal with crap like the racist TV ad campaign that torpedoed Harold Ford Jr.'s senate dreams in Tennessee, but there's that little problem with that usual Democratic lock -- the black vote.

Ford has proven to be a rather mediocre Democrat. He's safe. Boring. At times too conservative to even BE a Democrat. He's more of a Blue Dog than anything. And while there are lots and lots of black people who are socially conservative, but liberal on justice and economic issues, Harold Ford Jr. has long left the world's most nasty, self-loathing taste in people's mouths. And having a white wife DOES NOT HELP HIM. This is just a reality.
Now I don't know about Ford being this "sellout" as she sees him. As far as being a decent politician with family pedigree that has long served his home-state, that's all that matters to me. As a matter of fact, Harold Ford Jr. has been on my political radar for years long before the thought of moving to Tennessee from up north ever entered my mind. I happened to catch him on CSPAN a few times and was impressed enough so to follow the guy politically. My only beef with Harold Ford Jr. are his f*cked up haircuts whenever I see him on TV since leaving Memphis 3yrs ago. What, you can't tell me the brother can't find a decent barber in New York City?! My cousin owns a barber shop in Brooklyn - maybe I should hook him up with Harold.

To me, as a politician, Ford is part and parcel of what is needed in the U.S. Senate that has been dominated by old fat white guys. That would be, young educated  black men with political savvy; you know, guys that are my age. So what he's married to a white woman - to me that is of no concern or consequence. The bottom line in the game of politics is money. And according to the New York Times, Ford is only considering making this move at the urging of some very influential Democrats. Democrats who are of the belief that he would better serve the constituency than Kirsten E. Gillerbrand who has yet to win over her many of her constituents. Ford, quite the democratic fundraiser, managed to raise $15 million for his senate run in Tennessee in 2006, with about a fifth of his contributions coming from New York.

Be that as it may, I don't see him having a problem as some might think. Given the fact that only three blacks have held a senate seat since reconstruction, I see this as a big deal should he decide to run. The fact that "we" made a big deal about the RNC's racist attack ads against him in 2006. To now turn around and suggest that his wife being white is a "problem" strikes me as absurd and crabs in a barrel-ish. I could be wrong, but I think politically he has the ability to be the second coming of Barack Obama somewhere in the future.

So you tell me: Does him being married to a white woman present itself to be a political liability because he's a black man? In the grand scheme of things where the black vote may be just as critical this year as in 2006s midterm elections. Do you see this as a point of contention for the black voter in New York? How important is it to you the race of the spouse of a black political candidate? Can a black candidate be successful politically if he/she marries interracial? Does it really matter?


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