USA Today Pushes for Nia Gill
Like it or not, race and gender tends to be a player in who Gov. Elect Corzine picks to fill his Senate seat. That doesn't mean Corzine is racist or sexist, it just means that its the reality of the situation. It is shameful to think that someone will be appointed to any political position to pander to some gender or racial segment of the voting population. However, it is equally shameful that only 5 African Americans have served in the United States Senate, only one of which was a woman.
DeWayne Wickham of USA Today makes the case for appointing State Senator Nia Gill. He mentions how Gill was the co-chair of Corzine's campaign. Which to me means that she knows how to run a campaign. In simpler terms, this means she can win an election.
Wickham also makes an excellent point regarding the loss of black votes to Republicans. He notes that this has occured in the past and that the recent appointments of Condi Rice and Colin Powell have played a role in the Republican gains in the black community.
Back in 1912, when blacks voted for Republicans more heavily than they now back Democrats, some complained that the GOP was taking blacks for granted.
That year, activists W.E.B. DuBois and William Monroe Trotter urged blacks to vote for Democrat Woodrow Wilson, who won the presidential election with increased support from black voters. By 1936, the move of blacks from the GOP produced a landslide of support for the presidential campaign of Democrat Franklin Roosevelt, who got 71% of the black vote. Blacks have been the Democratic Party's most loyal constituency since.
That loyalty is being tested by the GOP's outreach to blacks — and the Democrats' complacency. In recent years, the GOP has been more aggressive in getting blacks elected to statewide offices. Two blacks were elected lieutenant governor in 2002: one in Ohio, the other in Maryland. And while GOP leaders from President Bush to Maryland Gov. Robert Ehrlich have thrown their support behind the U.S. Senate campaign of Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, Democrats have given scant support to Kweisi Mfume, the former congressman and NAACP president. He was the first Democrat to enter the race for the seat of retiring Sen. Paul Sarbanes of Maryland.
These moves, combined with Bush's appointment of first Colin Powell and then Condoleezza Rice as secretary of State (a position no black ever obtained in a Democratic administration), leave a lot of blacks wondering whether the unwavering support they've given Democrats is being taken for granted. Corzine's decision on his Senate replacement will help answer that.
Looks like at some of Al Sharpton's donkey riders are talking about hopping off the saddle. John Kerry got 88% of the black vote and 48% of the female vote. The Democratic party used to be comfortably above the 90% mark with African American voters (Gore got 90% in 2000). Democrats are loosing one of their strongest constituencies, and Wickham's points are well made. In selecting Nia Gill to replace him in the Senate, Jon Corzine will be doing a service to his state and to the national Democratic party.
Worse case scenario? Gill looses to Menendez in the 2006 primary. This isn't much of a downside since there is no total net loss of Congressional seats.
I reiterate, I don't think that race and gender play a role, but it truly is the reality of the situation. Equality is still an unobtained goal in this country. NJ tends to pride itself and celebrate the diversity housed within its great borders. Besides, we are talking about a well qualified individual who happens to be an African American Woman.
It is well known that Bill Clinton used to read the USA Today to get a pulse on what America was really thinking. I hope a certain Governor Elect takes the same advice.