Shades of Blue

Friday, January 27, 2006

Things that make you go hmmmmm

Black Republicans aren’t getting state appointments [P-D reprint]
Z. Dwight Billingsly

I’ve been watching to see how Missouri’s governor would reward long-time black Republicans who have worked tirelesslyfor our party’s candidates — from Ronald Reagan through George W. Bush and, at the state level, from John Ashcroft through MattBlunt. When the party wins, the party activists expect to win, too. Looking at Governor Blunt’s record in this regard at the one-year mark, there is much for black Republicans to be concerned about. President Bush has appointed highly qualified, black Republicans to powerful positions in his cabinet and numerous critical subcabinet positions. I admire his inclination to ignore the ultraliberal organizations such as the NAACP in favor of the more centrist groups such as the Black Chamber of Commerce. And the president’s decision to empower conservative black faith-basedinstitutions was brilliant; it has opened a Republican pipeline into a part of the black community that was especially tired of beingtaken for granted by Democrats who are out of step with the community’s values. Likewise, Republican Sen. Jim Talent has paid particular attention to having regular meetings with black Republicans and hasreached out through those black Republicans to others who appreciate his pro-economicdevelopment, pro-small-business agenda. The governor, however, has yet to follow these examples. Indeed, when it comes to appointments to state boards and commissionsor even the most basic outreach, Blunt appears to have forgotten Missouri’s loyal black Republicans. Blunt’s victory completed GOP control of state government, and black Republicans expected to see appointments to positionsthat refl ected their commitment to the party. That hasn’t happened, despite the presence of exceptionally well-qualifi ed candidates for openings. Black Republicans I’ve spokento have almost unanimously expressed disappointment with the lack of opportunities made available to them. Most of them havebeen approached only for slots traditionally reserved for blacks: the Martin Luther King Holiday commission, for example. Late in November, I asked James Harris, Blunt’s director of boards and commissions, for names and positions of people that thegovernor has appointed to boards, commissions and judicial posts and those in his cabinet and to identify each appointee bypolitical affi liation. I also asked which of the appointees are African-Americans. Harris told me I would get the information by the end of December, and then he started telling me why more black Republicansweren’t being appointed: There aren’t that many black Republicans (the easier to identify them, I’d think); there aren’t that manyqualified black Republicans (insulting and untrue); they’re interested in the best-qualified people, regardless of color (uh-huh); they’re interested in the best-qualified blacks, regardless of party (political appointments are all about partisanship). We’ve heard these kinds of reasons before — from people who aren’t really interested in inclusion. Imagine my surprise when December came and went without my receiving the information I’d requested. The Republican Party says it wants to attract more black support, but how much credibility can it have with the voting public when it doesn’t even take care of its own? Missouri Republicans are fl ying high now, but term limits and a presidential election in 2008 without a Republican incumbent and no Senate race could change that. This is the ideal time for the party to place black Republicans in signifi cant, influential positions to prove that it understands the need to use all of its assets to maintain power and grow.

Z. Dwight Billingsly is a principal of Branford Gateway Investment co., a longtime activist in local Republican politics and a regular contributor to the Commentary page.


  • I always thought you had to be an idiot to be both Black and a republican. Billingsley's complaints do nothing to dissuade me of that conviction.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:58 PM  

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