LOS ANGELES, December 27, 2012 — In the wake of Jesse Jackson, Jr.’s retirement from the House, several Democrats announcedtheir plans to seek the Democratic nomination: Ald. Anthony Beale, Cook County Administrator Robin Kelly, state Senators Donne Trotter and Toi Hutchinson, Senator-elect Napoleon Harris, and others. The Democratic nominee is expected to win the election in Jackson’s heavily Democratic, heavily black 2nd Congressional District in Chicago.
CNN Analyst Lenny McAllister hopes to change that. He threw his hat into the ring on December 4, and he so far remains the only one running for the Republican nomination. Expecting a bloodbath among the Democrats running for their party’s nomination, he hopes to walk through and win the general election on April 9.
McAllister is a moderate-conservative who also happens to be black. He thus claims to be the only candidate who can bridge the gap between the African-American community in the district and the Republicans in Kankakee and Will County. His campaign will place the 2nd District at the same crossroads that the rest of America faces – the crossroads of bipartisanship and the crossing of traditional party lines. McAllister’s campaign themes are, as he recently outlined in an interview, “One Big Team; bipartisan leadership from the Republican Party; finally, someone that can relate to all segments across the diversity of the 2nd Congressional District – conservatives, poor Blacks, middle class workers, white collar workers.”
Calling himself a “working man’s conservative,” McAllister said in an interview, “There’s only one candidate in this race that can touch Kankakee and Will County, but also advocate for and connect with the people of the South Side of Chicago. There hasn’t been a Republican who’s been able to do all those things effectively.”
However, some serious questions loom over McAllister’s ability to meet these ambitious goals. Will the Republican National Committee strongly support McAllister’s run for the seat? Will the Republicans endorse a candidate who, while perfect for the needs of the GOP to find a more diverse set of candidates, endorses what are considered “progressive” positions on domestic violence and voter-identification laws? Can the GOP throw its full support behind a man who would have a very hard time getting tea party backing, and who sees free-market solutions not as an end, but as a way of increasing the diversity of opportunities for urban blacks?
It would seem that supporting McAllister would be a no-brainer for a party that is sorely lacking support from minorities. His campaign would be a needed shot in the arm for a GOP that has absolutely no appeal in urban communities.
McAllister told Urban Game Changer, “I am the only Black Republican who can win this race based on my national media ID, history of community activism, leadership qualities, and … leadership within the party.” Some Republicans view attempting to woo minority voters with minority candidates as just copying the political Balkanization favored by Democrats, but they ignore the fact that suburban white men have failed miserably to convince black urban voters that they have the slightest interest in their problems. There are some tactical advantages to running candidates who look like their districts, whatever you want to call that and however much you’d like to float effortlessly above the sordid realities.
Men and women like Lenny McAllister are already embedded in urban communities dominated my minorities, and they can make a real difference to the GOP. It would be foolish of the GOP not to help them develop as candidates and as voices for their communities.
McAllister is a graduate of Davidson College, where he majored in History. He writes for several online papers and magazines, including the Charlotte Post, The Dallas Morning News, and Newsweek. He has written for several blogs and is a major contributor to hiphoprepublican.com. His writing focuses on Republican ideologies from an Afrocentric perspective.
McAllister is a vocal enemy of racism and racially divisive politics. For years he has been a community activist, and he has more than a decade of corporate experience. He prides himself on his ability to move people beyond partisan gridlock into solutions that benefit the people he fights for. He is that rara avis in these partisan times: a Republican who is not afraid of engaging minority voters, a conservative who can bring his policies to the inner-cities without kowtowing to the GOP establishment. Will the GOP hold that against him? Not if they’re smart.
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