Magazine article Black Enterprise

Democrats Fall Short: McCall, Kirk Lose Major Elections. (Washington Report)

Magazine article Black Enterprise

Democrats Fall Short: McCall, Kirk Lose Major Elections. (Washington Report)

Article excerpt

In the wake of one of the most important elections for African Americans in the early part of this century, pundits and political analysts are asking, what went wrong?

November 5, 2002, could have been an historic day for African Americans, the day that black voters helped Texas elect its first black U.S. Senator and New York its first black governor. But despite strong campaigns, the candidates in both races fell short.

In Texas, Republican John Cornyn beat Democrat Ron Kirk former mayor of Dallas, 55% to 43%. Halfway across the country, in New York, democrat H. Carl McCall received 33% of the vote, to republican incumbent George Pataki's 49%.

Ron Walters, a political science professor at the University of Maryland, says a downplaying of racial issues by the candidates, lack of financial support from the national Democratic party, and the overwhelming popularity of President George W. Bush, who campaigned hard for his fellow Republicans, contributed to Kirks and McCall's campaign losses.

"Bottom line, Democrats just couldn't get it done in this election," Walters said. "Not after 9-11. [The election] was predicated upon people's fears for their personal security and [President] Bush used this fear as political capital. Kirk, McCall, and everybody else had to contend with that."

National election results bear this out. The Democrats had a one-seat advantage in the U.S. Senate going into the race and needed only six seats to retake the House of Representatives. But Democrats had a dismal election day, losing seven senate races, including Kirk's, and challenges in Colorado, Georgia, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Missouri, and North Carolina.

The Democrats' fight for control of Congress may have put the final nail in McCall's campaign. With McCall facing a more than 10-point deficit in polls just three weeks before the election, the Democratic party pulled the plug on financing his campaign in order to shift money to important Senate and House races, including Kirk's. …

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