Is the Republican party’s effort to win black voters just skin-deep?

Erika Harold, Republican aspirant

This article was first published in The Guardian October 18, 2013

When it’s convenient to their diversity “story-telling”, the Republican National Committee loves black Republicans. After Mitt Romney got whacked in the 2012 presidential election because he ignored minority voters, the RNC pledge it would engage with minority voters and support more candidates of color.

To keep up appearances, the RNC hired a handful of blacks this year and featured the black Republican house speaker from Oklahoma, TW Shannon, as a speaker in its Rising Stars Program at the RNC’s summer meeting in Boston. But when it’s time to support actual black candidates in primaries against white candidates, the RNC treats black Republicans like the plague.

Ask black Republican Erika Harold; she can tell you all about it. The former Miss America 2003 and Harvard Law School graduate, Harold had the audacity to challenge white, male, first-term Representative Rodney Davis in a GOP primary for Illinois‘ 13th congressional seat – and is witnessing the party machine’s discrimination up-close and personal.

The Illinois Republican party refused to give Harold access to the GOP data center. Formerly called the “voter vault”, the data center is where the RNC stores voting information for all voters in the country, which it makes available to the 50 state parties for free. Candidates are given access to the database to target donors and voters.

In response to Harold’s request, the state central committee, which governs the Illinois GOP, issued a new policy at its 5 October meeting. The new policy stated that challengers to any Republican incumbent would not be given access to the voter database. However, the policy did permit county chairs to give access to county voter data at their own discretion. How convenient for the white incumbent, Davis.

I thought primaries were about letting the best man or woman win? When I asked Harold what her reaction was to the new policy, she remarked:

“I think this new policy does a disservice to all candidates and all voters because we each have a stake in ensuring that all elections are run in a fundamentally fair way. I hope that the committee would reconsider its policy because this is about fairness and equal access.

The primary is scheduled for March 2014; not having access to the data center is a setback for Harold. In response to Republican News Watch blogger Doug Ibendahl’s inquiry to the RNC about the matter, its newly-hired black deputy press secretary, Raffi Williams, responded that “state parties determine access to data center.”

The RNC, in fact, owns the data center. By choosing not to force the Illinois GOP to give Harold access, the RNC is washing its hands of the matter – effectively saying “we’re not going to help you black candidates.” The only time the RNC has stood up for Harold was when Jim Allen, chairman of the Montgomery County, Illinois, Republican party went as far as to call Harold a “street walker”. Of course, it would have been difficult for RNC Chairman Reince Priebus not to defend Harold when, just a few months earlier, the RNC had unveiled its “Growth and Opportunity Project”, designed to attract more non-white, women and young voters to the party.

The report noted:

“Public perception of the party is at record lows. Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the party represents, and many minorities wrongly think that Republicans do not like them or want them in the country.”

Behind the scenes, though, the establishment seems bent on obstructing Harold’s campaign. Whatever the PR says, it’s clear the party has no intention of changing its “white only” ways.

It’s been nearly a year since the GOP lost the 2012 presidential election and despite the RNC’s pledge to be more inclusive, nothing has changed. Besides a few brown and black hires, how has the RNC leaned into new communities of voters?

A Republican asked me recently, why Harold is challenging Davis? “Why not,” I replied. She has the credentials: Harold was the youth director for Republican Pat O’Malley’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign; a 2004 delegate to the Republican National Convention; and has ideas for governing. White voters are a shrinking portion of the county’s demographic. By the year 2050, about 53% of Americans will be non-white.

Mitt Romney won 60% of the white vote in 2012, the highest of any presidential candidate since 1988, yet he lost the election because of minority votes. The RNC and its state chapters had better realize that candidates like Erika Harold are the future of the GOP – or risk becoming an unelectable and moribund party of an unrepresentative demographic.


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23 Responses to “Is the Republican party’s effort to win black voters just skin-deep?”

  1. David says:

    I do find the republican behavior very stupid. The RNC should be neutral. They should have the exact same rules for primary challengers as they do incumbents.

  2. usmanbey1 says:

    Gary Burgess, nice try. Always trying to whitewash republican and excuse republican blatant racism. Nobody is putting a gun to your head and demanding that you vote democrat Mr. Drama Queen ex service man punk!!!! There is a reason many black people refuse to give Republicans a second glance. When a party is so condescending, disrespectful, and flat out racist to black people, how should sane black people react to such a party?

    You keep talking about ignorance on both sides, that’s nonsense. Be honest with yourself and have the balls to admit that Republicans have been the ones freely espousing their racist tenets. Stop playing that equalization game that you black conservatives love to indulge in. If at 63 you can sit mute while the people you claim to be part of insult and denigerate your entire race, then you are a FOOL at 63.

    General Powell, yes Four Star General Powell, unlike an irrelevant private like you would not stand for that Republican stupidity. He would not remain mute like the circus monkeys (black conservatives) that Republicans keep in excess supply while the racist white Republicans freely disrespect black people. He called them out, and then broke ranks with them by endorsing a sane black man as President. No black person expected Powell to vote a certain way, and he too has served this country on levels that dwarf your service. The difference sir is this, unlike you, he is a Black Man First, and he take pride in his race, his self respect, and his humanity. Try learning to respect yourself, and taking respect.

    Enough of your whimpy, self hate, and willing self subjugation to racist whites who care nothing about you or your kind. Goodluck to you.

  3. Gary Burgess says:

    It seems to me that a lot of comments are made out of pure ignorance. As a result of an interracial relationship 63 years ago I have had to deal with this ignorance all my life. I have served my country faithfully and am a disabled service-connected veteran. I have lived through the civil rights movement and seen discrimination from both blacks and whites. I said that to let you know where I’m coming from. It is a shame when I have political parties try to force me to vote Democrat or Republican based on my race. I have many black retired military friends who are afraid to put a Republican sticker on their vehicle because of reprisals against them. There are ignorance on both the Republican and the Democrats side of the fence. As minority Republicans we have to stand together educate Republican Party and show the Democrats that our Constitution gives us the right to vote our conscience not race. I have served my country too many years for someone to tell me because I am a minority I must vote a certain way.

  4. Noel says:

    The only important taxes to pay are the ones tied to the ligitimate functions of a government; the police, the armed forces and the law courts.

    I didn’t say the government is forcing me to work, I said the government is forcing me to work for it. And when I say it’s forcing me to work for it, I don’t mean it’s forcing me to be a government employee. I said it’s confiscating money from me in the form of taxes.

    Last: Yes, we can agree on that. I’m done here, have a good weekend.

  5. revolutionist90 says:

    I guess I can understand the frustration but I truly believe that the GOP does not choose to skip over black people. Have you ever had a conversation with a liberal/progressive black person about the GOP? Due to large media bias and generational voting many view the GOP as racists and part of the KKK (even though the KKK was created by the democrats). Part of what is harming the GOP is not always the party itself but because it is almost impossible to erase the large amount of damage done by progressives and liberals who frequently label the GOP as racists. Just as it is difficult to erase the name of Uncle Tom from a conservative black it is even harder to erase the name of racist from a white conservative. The fact that they are white automatically causes racial tension. Yes there are people in the GOP who say really nasty things but democrats do the exact same thus one cannot trump the other on the whole “who is more racist” claim. That is why I believe the black community outreach should be lead by other black GOP members and not by white GOP members (the racial tension and divide is too great). Also one of the core values of black conservatives/GOP is not to be treated special so why should the GOP roll out a red carpet similar to how democrats baby and coddle the black community? Conservatism is for everyone so instead of asking for an invitation why don’t black conservatives rally people in their own communities and actively participate in the GOP process (i.e demand to meet with the leader instead of waiting around asking for an invitation). Or better yet join the Tea party movement.

  6. Noel says:

    All the problems in an economy are caused by government intervention in the economy.

    Nature to be commanded must be obeyed. Nature has laws. There are laws of physics and there are laws of economics. In economics there is the fundamental law of supply and demand which determines the price of things including the price of borrowing money (interest rates).
    In physics you can command nature to yield a specific result. Knowing the laws and all the variables involved and being able to control (manipulate) those variables, you can confidently build a machine to achieve what you want. But you have to know all the variables and be able to control them.

    Well in 1913, one hundred years ago the government, armed with the law of supply and demand, went into the economy and began to monkey around with the money supply in order to yield a specific result (prosperity) without knowing all the variables and without being able to control them. And it’s been down hill ever since. When it comes to an economy you can’t know all the variables, you’d have to know the intimate thoughts of all the people all of the time to know all the variables.

    The government has to get out of the economy, the economy is ruled by the law of supply and demand. The answer is a free economy.

    And when I talk about freedom, I mean freedom in the political sense; freedom from a tyrannical government not “freedom to urinate in public”. And like I said many times before, the proper function of a government is the protection of individual rights. And yes, when the government confiscates money from me in the form of taxes, it is FORCING me to work for it.

  7. Noel says:

    But, truevoice, the government forcing people to work?
    Forcing people…….isn’t that suppression?
    When the government forces people to pay taxes it is literally forcing people to work to support other people.

    No, truevoice, PROGRESS will be made when the government drifts away from forcing people; gets out of the economy.

    No, truevoice, a human being is not like an ant or a bee. A human being has it’s own nature. A human being is more productive when they are free.

    Progress was made when the draft was eliminated and replaced by an all-volunteer military.
    Progress will be made when forcing people to pay taxes is eliminated and replaced by a voluntary tax system in the distant future; if the United States survives.

    Progress should be towards more freedom and not towards a dictatorship.

  8. Noel says:

    I hear you truevoice, these “conservative idiots have a hard time with progress.”

    They just don’t get it, truevoice. They don’t see that if the government forced people to work there would be full employment. Money and poverty would be eliminated, goods and services would be free.

    They don’t see that a bee colony, an ant colony represent “common sense ideals” that mankind ought to progress towards.

  9. Nyte says:

    I will get to your policy complaint in a bit.

  10. Nyte says:

    as for me I am a conservative not measured by their approval and they don’t approve of me, but my belief system.

    however, embedded in your contention that if such were provided say Miss Harold said, “I need a speech coach,” and hired me you would content that i did so merely as some form of scam —-

    You and truevoice create a box in which if one lived their would be n o escape from indictment.

    I reject the suggestion and the box it comes in — loaded as it is.

  11. uptownsteve says:

    Nyte sez “No black conservative is a conservative because of what he or she can get . . .”

    Are you nuts? You get the perverse satisfaction of being different from the rest of us awful negroes and special in the eyes of your beloved Massa. It’s already been proven that Crystal Wright was a Democrat up until 2009 when realized that while she would be standing in a long line as a black media Democrat, she would become an immediate star as stereotype spewing black Republican. The black Ann Coulter if you will. Being a black conservative is akin to a junk bond salesman. For a minimal investment (becoming a conservative Republican) you reap large short term rewards (immediate national exposure and in some cases GOP Pac money). The ultimate hustlers.

  12. Nyte says:

    Progress towards more less accountability and more government programs. Note with some glee how truevoice celebrates the illegal immigration advance a matter which continues to undermine the sovereignty and value of one’s fellow citizens.

    Democratic values at their finest.

  13. Noel says:


    “PROGRESS” towards what?

  14. Nyte says:

    Having been a conservative for all of my life I am keenly aware of the tactics and games played by whites and blacks alike in the political arena.

    NBo black conservative is a conservative because of what he or she can get . . .

    I would have disavowed my beliefs long ago.

  15. Nyte says:

    Apparently not having read my response truevoice turns to his typical consolation rhetorical trade —–

    Should I mention that the Constitution is the law of the land so phrased because it represents the foundation by which we operate.

  16. Nyte says:

    Well truevoice,

    since we are talking about insider party politics and their is no distinct indication of a racial bias, though I might suspect one and republicans have done the same of other candidates they did not prefer and such behavior is most likely more about party loyalty than color as it is a practice to discourage unlikely winning candidates

    This is a practice that runs amongst both parties and smaller parties experience the same pressures just not as intensely.

    And last but not least — it is not an election but inside party politics

    It is in no way related to voter suppression.

  17. Noel says:

    “…However there is a need for a more progressive party…”

    What do you mean by “a more progressive party”? Elaborate.

    Do you mean that there is a need for a party that would establish a “direct democracy” and do away with the constitution?

  18. Nyte says:


    She serves her district even above the Republican party that she is a conservative is big plus for herself, her district, state, nation and party.

    Stand to post Miss Harold. Enjoin the battle.

  19. Nyte says:

    First, I am disappointed that in Allen, chairman of the Montgomery County, Illinois, Republican party made those rather tawdry comments. And i don’t mean tawdry as in ‘tawdry’. I m mean reprehensible and he should have disciplined as well as censured for those remarks. And I mean publicly censured and an apology should have been issued forth with.

    No one should be so ill manneredly treated in public. This was not some heated demand in which Mr. Allen was being demanded to go erase a black board, fifty yards away. And I am curious if Republican and conservative women did not stand against such references. Street walker? Really? Hence the liberal mantra of the war against women.

    In fact, Rodny Davis should have been the first to stand to post against such language. And as for Mr. Preibus, well here’s a man whose strategic move is to make the Republican party look like the democratic party, so I wouldn’t look for too much help there. And who has as with most whites conservative written off black voter potential. I think that is a mistake. And clearly, in this instance contradicts the entire women’s push on new strategy outines..

    And while I understand that the party is going to push someone they think can win, having denied access to other potential candidates contradicts the big tent fair play advance of the Republican party.

    While, I chagrin the tactic. The Republican party is going to promote a choice they think can win. And while I think thwarting other challengers in this manner actually dulls conservative critical thought and advance — ‘iron sharpening iron’. I understand why they engage in discouraging energy and effort to the cause of winning. It’s not just the Republican party, but democrats do the same. A united focussed front.

    I will at this point give my own advertisement: if Miss Harold should desire to take the matter on ‘head on’ as she should, she go on the offensive in every way as while disappointing she should keep the data center issue on the back burner while her lawyers and staff pursuit the same with the party chairman, etc.

    Because in the end, it is the campaign one runs in spite of the obstacles. The veracity and accuracy by which Miss Harold will tackle the issues. And on that score is where the battle is joined. And to that end she must be a critical thinker faster on her feet an d of clear purpose. Pulling no punches. Not running because she is a black woman but because she has a sense of the direction she believes the country should be headed. That means m ore than a pretty face and being a nice person.

    Should she ever be in need of a strategic communications speech coach. I can do for you what I have done for marines in recruiting. Make you effective. Feel free to give a ring.

    I am not a writer. I teach strategic argumentation and addressing hostile audiences. if you want to be a batter debater — and effective. Send me an email. If we agree on issues. You’ll be more than a candidate.

    as for the slight . . . it is what it is —

    in some respect a so what.

  20. Noel says:

    It will be called the REALITY PARTY in contrast to the FANTASY PARTY i.e. the democratic party.

  21. Noel says:

    @Scott…….I second that emotion.

  22. Crystal honey, cans you tell me why Presidint Obamba let day debt go over 17 trillion damn dollars dis weeksend. What day hell is wrong with Baracks Insane Obamba?

    I knows one damn thing, day better keeps my checks commin on day 3rd every month!

  23. Scott says:

    We need to kill the Republican Party and begin to form a truly conservative, non-religious party. I am ready to sign up.

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