Posted on January 12, 2006

Support Follows Racial Lines

S.A. Miller, Washington Times, Jan. 12, 2006

Endorsements for U.S. Senate candidates are dividing along racial lines in Maryland’s Democratic Party.

Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, who is white, has received more than 100 endorsements for his Senate bid, but just seven have come from black Democratic officials.

Kweisi Mfume, who is black and the former president of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, has received 29 Senate endorsements, but just two have come from white Democratic officials.

Racial issues have disquieted state Democratic leaders, who have borne long-standing complaints of ignoring black voters that Mr. Mfume himself reiterated during a speech last summer.

What’s more, Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele — the first black to win a statewide office — has been the target of racially tinged criticism for being a conservative Republican. Several black Democratic lawmakers in Baltimore condoned such criticism until state leaders such as Mr. Mfume and Rep. Albert R. Wynn repudiated race-baiting.


However, Delegate Darryl A. Kelley, a black Prince George’s County Democrat, said he is disturbed by “those stark numbers.”

“It is surprising that Mfume does not have more support from the white community, at least from the elected officials,” said Mr. Kelley, who has endorsed Mr. Mfume. “The Democratic Party still struggles with some racial issues in terms of electing an African-American candidate on his own statewide.”

According to the 2000 census, blacks account for about 28 percent of Maryland’s 5.3 million residents.

In addition, blacks are believed to make up an even larger percentage of the state’s 1.7 million registered Democratic voters. Prince George’s County, which is 63 percent black, is the state’s second most-populous jurisdiction and has Maryland’s largest concentration of registered Democrats — more than 319,000, according to the State Board of Elections.