More Congressional Black Caucus news

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HAT TIP: DC’S Political Report, MyDD

The New York Times has an update on the special election in California’s 37th Congressional District vacated by the late Juanita Millender-McDonald. Assemblyman Mervyn Dymally, one of the godfathers of California black politics and a former holder of this seat, has endorsed his colleague, Laura Richardson. The black political class has begun to rally round sistah Laura and she has been endorsed by Carson City Councilman Isadore Hall as well. Thangs are looking up for a hold on this seat for the CBC.

In other news, it looks as if there is some movement in the federal investigation against corporate whore “Dollar Bill” Jefferson of $90,000 in the freezer fame. I hope they throw his damn ass in the same cell as Duke Cunningham.

Matt Stoller of MyDD has a report about Charlie Rangel and Artur Davis selling out Labor and the Black Diaspora on Trade. Rangel is one of the House Big Dawgs as Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee. Artur Davis, is a Junior Member serving his third term in Congress. He is the chief recruiter for the DLC and recruits pro-free trade Democrats to betray the pro-Labor constituency of the Democratic Party. He is also a corporate whore, a flack for the pro-Israel-bomb-them-back-to-the-stoneage-Lobby, and a supporter of Barack Obama. His betrayal of the black consensus is crystal clear. His support of Obama raises more questions then it answers.

 

Congressman Hank Johnson faces possible primary challenge

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Cynthia McKinneyGo to fullsize image

May 09, 2007
Rep. Hank Johnson’s (D-Ga.) mild-mannered style will never be mistaken for that of his outspoken predecessor, Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D). But that doesn’t mean fellow Democrats are going to let him cruise to a second term without another heated primary.Democrats in the Atlanta area say Johnson is keenly aware that McKinney’s departure has opened a door to any number of ambitious would-be members of Congress. Johnson, wary of pronouncing himself reelected, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last week that he’s hearing several names.

Anti-McKinney Democrats largely coalesced behind Johnson last year to knock off McKinney for the second time in the last three cycles. Now some of them — and possibly McKinney — apparently have turned their eyes on the quiet freshman as well.

“He’s certainly hearing rumors,” Johnson spokeswoman Deb McGhee Speights said. “But he wouldn’t be surprised, certainly, at this point if there is a challenger.”

Pervasive speculation has it that DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones will drop his U.S. Senate bid to enter the race, and Democrats are not counting out repeat bids by McKinney or former Rep. Denise Majette (D-Ga.). Majette beat McKinney in 2002 but vacated the seat for a failed bid for Senate in 2004, at which point McKinney retook her old seat. Jones’s campaign dismissed the rumors and spoke highly of Johnson. But many Democrats are dumbfounded by Jones’s flirtation with running for Senate.

Jones, who has said he is running but is still technically in an exploratory phase, raised a meager $18,000 in the first quarter and has a spotty personal history that might be hard to overcome statewide. At the same time, he has crossover appeal because he is conservative and black.

A Strategic Vision poll from last month showed current Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) up 57–29 in a head-to-head match-up.

As a black Democrat in Georgia, Jones figures to have a strong shot at the Democratic nomination and could scare off other candidates, according to Georgia political operatives and observers.

Atlanta Democratic consultant Angelo Fuster, who has worked for Jones in the past, said people underestimate Jones at their own peril, and Johnson surely wouldn’t.

“I think that [Johnson] has some concerns that Vernon is going to run against him,” Fuster said. “The general consensus is that Hank would have a difficult competition if Vernon decided to run for the House.”

University of Georgia political science Professor Charles Bullock said Jones, who is term-limited in his current job at the end of 2008, is much better known than Johnson is.

Before entering Congress, Johnson served as a DeKalb commissioner beneath Jones.

“That would certainly be a much more winnable seat for him,” Bullock said. “There was some thought when McKinney was in there that he might run against her once his term was up. So this is not novel speculation that he might run in the 4th district.”

Jones spokesman Jamie Grey said the speculation is unfounded and based on race, but he also suggested Jones would have beaten both Johnson and McKinney.

“You’re hearing that from some naysayers and some ne’er-do-wells that really want to look for a person of a different hue to run under the Democratic banner for the Senate,” Grey said. “If Vernon wanted to be the congressman from the 4th congressional district, he would be it now.”

Grey also said any of the other names being mentioned likely would not be able to beat Johnson.

Johnson won in 2006 partially thanks to the backlash from McKinney’s dust-up with a U.S. Capitol Police officer. The officer didn’t recognize her and tried to make her go through a security check, from which members are exempt.

Johnson gained a primary runoff with McKinney and defeated her 59–41 in August. The district is overwhelmingly Democratic, and he went on to sail through the general election.

Democrats say they believe McKinney might be interested in running for her old seat now that another year has passed since the event. McKinney has remained a vocal opponent of the war in Iraq and has been giving speeches, including at a peace conference in Malaysia in February where President Bush was labeled a “war criminal.”

Johnson hesitated to support the Iraq war supplemental last month, but eventually decided to join Democrats. Speights said though Johnson wants the troops out soon, it was the best option and Johnson wasn’t concerned about a primary challenge from the left.

McKinney, for her part, tried to position herself toward the end of the 2006 runoff as the No. 1 opponent of Bush.
She has been working to retire a $60,000 campaign debt and has updated her website in recent months to reflect her progress. She’s about one-sixth of the way there, according to the site.

Majette ran for state school superintendent in 2006 after losing her Senate bid and again lost by a wide margin. Like Johnson did in 2006, she won in 2002 with an assist from McKinney’s antics.

McKinney and Majette could not be reached for comment.

DeKalb County Commissioner Burrell Ellis said McKinney loyalists have rallied around Johnson in the early going and that he looks ready if a challenge heads his way.

“I think he’s now making his own mark and looking strong,” Ellis said.

Finally, House GOP stops drinking the Iraq Kool-Aid

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WASHINGTON, May 9 — Moderate Republicans gave President Bush a blunt warning on his Iraq policy at a private White House meeting this week, telling the president that conditions needed to improve markedly by fall or more Republicans would desert him on the war.

The White House session demonstrated the grave unease many Republicans are feeling about the war, even as they continue to stand with the president against Democratic efforts to force a withdrawal of forces through a spending measure that has been a flash point for weeks.

Participants in the Tuesday meeting between Mr. Bush, senior administration officials and 11 members of a moderate bloc of House Republicans said the lawmakers were unusually candid with the president, telling him that public support for the war was crumbling in their swing districts.

One told Mr. Bush that voters back home favored a withdrawal even if it meant the war was judged a loss. Representative Tom Davis told Mr. Bush that the president’s approval rating was at 5 percent in one section of his northern Virginia district.

“It was a tough meeting in terms of people being as frank as they possibly could about their districts and their feelings about where the American people are on the war,” said Representative Ray LaHood of Illinois, who took part in the session, which lasted more than an hour in the residential section of the White House. “It was a no-holds-barred meeting.”

Several of the Republican moderates who visited the White House have already come under political attack at home for their support of Mr. Bush and survived serious Democratic challenges in November.

Representative Charles W. Dent of Pennsylvania, a co-chairman of the Tuesday Group, an alliance of about 30 moderate Republican lawmakers, helped arrange the meeting. He said lawmakers wanted to convey the frustration and impatience with the war they are hearing from voters. “We had a very frank conversation about the situation in Iraq,” he said. Even so, the Republicans who attended the White House session indicated that they would maintain solidarity with Mr. Bush for now by opposing the latest Democratic proposal for two-stage financing of war, which is scheduled for a vote on Thursday in the House.

Lawmakers said Mr. Bush made no commitments, but seemed grateful for their support and said a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq could cause the sort of chaos that occurred in Southeast Asia after Americans left Vietnam. The lawmakers said that Mr. Bush and others at the meeting — including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, the political adviser Karl Rove and National Security Adviser Stephen J. Hadley — appeared to appreciate the political reality facing Republicans who will be on the ballot next year.

“It was very healthy,” said Representative John A. Boehner of Ohio, the House Republican leader, who attended but let the moderates do most of the talking.

Sharpton vs. Romney

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Rev. Al Sharpton Rally @ For Darfur 30 Apr 2006189Gov. Mitt Romney (MA) - Friday Morning

 HAT TIP: Michael D. Shear
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, May 10, 2007
; A08

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and civil rights activist Al Sharpton traded angry, racially charged accusations yesterday, with Romney alleging that Sharpton had uttered “bigoted” comments about Mormonism.

On the campaign trail in Iowa, Romney was asked about Sharpton’s comment during a debate Monday that “those of us who believe in God” will defeat Romney. The former Massachusetts governor told reporters that such a comment “shows that bigotry still exists in some corners.”

Sharpton angrily denied Romney’s charge in a telephone interview yesterday, and he accused Romney of stoking a verbal war with him to gain support among conservatives.

Sharpton said his comments have been taken out of their original context — a debate about religion with journalist Christopher Hitchens, who Sharpton said had suggested that Mormonism once advocated segregation.

“Attacking me, not Hitchens, shows [Romney] is playing politics,” Sharpton said. “What is bigoted about asking . . . about a denomination based on racism?”

Sharpton called on Romney to address whether the Mormon Church ever supported segregation. “He needs to clarify the truth or non-truth of what I was presented,” Sharpton said.

Richard N. Ostling, co-author of “Mormon America,” said the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as the church is formally known, never officially sanctioned segregation. But until 1978, he said, the church barred any male with “African blood” from being a “priest,” a designation given to males over the age of 12.

“That pertains to not only holding church office but performing very routine functions and has afterlife implications,” Ostling said. “That teaching goes back at least to 1849.”

The back-and-forth highlights Romney’s sensitivity on issues relating to his faith. If elected, he would become the first Mormon president, which he plays down on the campaign trail.

Romney spokesman Kevin Madden said Sharpton owes Romney an apology “for the initial attack.” He added: “We are simply responding to a gratuitous attack from Reverend Sharpton. It’s sad that he would continue to target any fellow American on the issue of faith.”

Romney has praised his church’s decision to “ordain African Americans,” Madden said. “He has spoken very sincerely about how great a day he thought that was. He is somebody who is absolutely against discrimination.”

Tell me your thoughts.