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Number of Black Republicans May Emerge As Part of the New Congress

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Special to the NNPA from the AFRO-American Newspapers (DC) –

With 14 Black Republicans running for voting seats in the House - and a Black GOP candidate for a non-voting seat representing the U.S. Virgin Islands - the stage is set for the largest number of Black Republicans since Reconstruction to compete for the House.

Facing little opposition in his home state of South Carolina, Tim Scott appears poised to earn a seat in the Nov. 2 mid-term elections, and is at the center of the Republican Party’s attempts to place a record number of African-Americans in Congress.

Scott, a South Carolina state representative is running for that state’s 1st congressional district seat, a district with a 21 percent Black population. Scott defeated Paul Thurmond, the son of the late Senator Strom Thurmond in a Republican run-off election in June. He would be the state’s first Black congressman since Reconstruction. He may also be among the first African-American Republicans in the House since 2003.

The Black candidates are part of a surge of Black GOP activism triggered by the emergence of President Obama. If the Republicans regain control on Capitol Hill, it could be two long years for the Obama administration.

For Black Republicans to win, however, they have found that they can’t just appeal to Black voters. The Obama victory made it clear that Blacks could win White votes. Scott is close to core Republican values of limited government and conservative fiscal management, values which may help him win over the party’s White majority.

“I think the issues are very simple,” Scott said, “Limited government, simplified tax code, lower taxes, and less government spending.”

Another Black Republican, Star Parker a former welfare mother, is challenging incumbent Laura Richardson (D) in California’s 37th congressional district. Richardson is also Black. But Parker has raised more than $1.1 million for her campaign, surpassing Richardson, who endured real estate woes when her home was recently the subject of foreclosure.

While only 16 percent of the district’s voters are registered Republicans, 68 percent of the district is Hispanic/Black. Parker has promised voters she will, if elected, mount a three-prong plan that includes tracking private sector jobs, building up non-profit organizations, and strengthening schools in the public and private sector.

Other Black GOP hopefuls are running strong late in their race. Allen West is in a pitched battle for the seat in Florida’s 22nd congressional district, a district with only a 3.8 percent Black population. A Sunshine State Poll conducted by Voter Survey Service Oct. 17-19 put West ahead 47 to 44, within the margin of error. Nine percent were undecided and the candidates are targeting them.

“I ran in 2008 and raised half a million dollars, and the state party didn’t support me and the national party didn’t support me,” said West. “But we came back and we’re running and things are looking great.”

He is running with the endorsement of GOP icon Sarah Palin, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the support from South Florida Tea Party members. Various veterans groups also have endorsed West, a former U.S. Army officer.

In Colorado, Aurora City Councilman Ryan Frazier is mounting a Republican Party-backed challenge of two-term incumbent Ed Perlmutter (D) for the 7th district seat. He is running in a district with only a 5.8 percent Black population and whose voters are divided evenly among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Frazier had a one percentage point edge in the latest poll, 40 to 39 over Perlmutter.

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