Democratic leaders were not happy when Steele, as running mate in 2002, helped pull even a mere 5 percent of the black vote for Robert Ehrlich, the winning Republican for governor. Running by himself for the Senate, Steele will surely do much better. His own surveys show 14 percent, with an upside potential of 44 percent. If Steele gets 25 percent of the black vote, he is probably the winner.
I asked Myrick why he had endorsed Steele. "He came to school not just for a brief visit, but spent the whole day," the principal told me. "He showed he cared about the students and teachers." What about Cardin? "He hasn't been here," said Myrick. When I asked if he even knew who the veteran congressman was, he said he did not.
Steele is a conservative and pro-life on abortion (balancing Ehrlich's pro-choice views on the '02 ticket). He says became a Republican at age 18 when he heard Ronald Reagan address the 1976 Republican National Convention.
But at Prince George's Community College with Principal Myrick at his side, Steele whacked President Bush's educational policies (especially defunding support for low-income college students). In his brief remarks, he could not find anything favorable to say about the president.
He was even tougher on Bush in talking to me: "In the eyes of blacks, [Hurricane] Katrina was a 9/11 event. You didn't fly over 9/11. You got on the ground in the rubble. You should have been on the ground for Katrina." Republican regulars don't mind this sort of talk. They know Steele, their former Republican state chairman, from fish fries all over the Free State. He can say whatever he wants to score a historic victory of national proportions.