Steele: Meeting the 'Unique Threat' of Maryland

Mary Katharine Ham
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Posted: Nov 02, 2006 6:15 PM

Sorry I've been outta here today. I went up to Annapolis for the day to a Michael Steele campaign stop. I was lucky enough to talk to him for a HamNation, which will go up tomorrow.


'Cause y'all know I love this guy. The Baltimore Sun poll put Cardin up just 6 this week, which is saying something coming from the Baltimore Sun. Today's press conference was to announce an endorsement of Steele by a number of black Maryland clergymen and women, mostly from the Baltimore area.

The other day, when Steele received the endorsements of several prominent, black Democrat politicians in his home county of Prince George's, I knew that was significant. If he can make a dent in the Dems' black vote in that heavily black county, he has a serious shot. But I wondered if he was able to make similar inroads in Baltimore, which is the state's other majority black area, since it's not his home turf up there, but Cardin's. From the looks of things, he is making some progress.

Steele is smart, fun to listen to, and really good on his feet. He's also a committed conservative who has some ideas for boosting the black community and helping the poor without making all the help about government programs. He pointed to private, faith-based programs run by the clergy present as often more effective than the federal government. All of the speakers who took the podium were excited, passionate, committed to Steele, and vocal Democrats.

That is something of a sea change. If Steele can pull this off, and I think he can, it's a significant win for the Republican Party, and I think, for the black community of Maryland. All the speakers to take the podium conceded that being wedded to the Democratic Party had not been an effective road out of poverty for that community.

Constituencies are inherently better off if politicians have to fight over them. The Democratic Party hasn't had to fight for the black vote for a long, long time, and it shows. They've been able to race-bait a little, throw more money at social programs that don't work, and stay secure in their 93 percent of that demographic. Steele makes that a whole lot harder.

That's why the Democratic Party refers to him as a "unique threat" who they're prepared to "knock down" and "make a typical Republican in the eyes of voters, not an African-American candidate." That's why MJF came to town for Cardin this week. That's why Schumer staffers stole Steele's credit report. That's why left-wing bloggers Photoshopped him in black face.

Steele said black voters haven't taken kindly to the Dems' treatment of him, nor has it gone unnoticed that the Democratic Party has passed on black candidates for Senate and Lt. Gov. in the last four years while the Republican Party has consistently backed Steele.

Steele is a unique threat, but it's not to the black community of Maryland, and I think they're beginning to realize that. I believe I'll be volunteering for him this weekend.

Update: Jim Geraghty has a great analysis of that Baltimore Sun poll. Some of the numbers smell.