First Black Lt. Gov.?

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    At a time when many are laying Michigan’s economic woes at the feet of the administration of Gov. Jennifer Granholm, others are calling for the Michigan Democratic Party not to be let off the hook this time around.
    At least that is the conversation in some political quarters I have been privy to. Anger and frustration is boiling over the Democrats’ bait and switch game inside the corridors of power where the Black vote is more often than not taken for granted.

    Every election season, like a lamb drawn to the alter for political sacrifice, African Americans are drawn to the polls in large numbers around the country because party leaders say their lives are at stake.

    In Michigan, to agitate the skeptical minds in the African-American community, the Democratic leaders inject issues like insurance redlining to get voters in urban centers riled up.

    But after the election the high hopes of urban voters are dashed. They are greeted with no insurance reform, but year-round boring press conferences conducted by political grandstanding legislators who are so adept at using useless and toothless proposals to fight insurance redlining. In so doing they raise their public profile as concerned leaders while the rest of us continue to pay excessively high premiums.

    I recall when Gov. Granholm was facing a tough re-election challenge, a group of Black preachers convened with the Democratic flag bearer at the Cadillac Building in the New Center Area for what seemed to be the Armageddon battle to tackle insurance redlining.

    The cassock-wearing men and women announced that they had reached an agreement with some insurance companies to lower rates for urban consumers.

    A couple of insurance companies attended the press conference. Interestingly, right after Gran­holm was elected, that marked the end of the Black preachers’ high profile crusade.

    When I looked back I wondered if voters were made a pun on the chessboard of local politics that often invokes religion as the ever-effective opium of the masses.

    So in 2010, Democrats, already struggling with the lack of inspiring and can-do candidates in the coming election, now have to think through another demand that some say is overdue: put an African American on the gubernatorial ticket. Michigan needs an African-American lieutenant governor is how one political insider put it to me.

    It’s time for the party that championed civil rights and voting rights to pony up and give credence to the demand for an African-American second-in-command in the state of Michigan.

    Well, I will take it even further. The Democratic Party should have a candidate from a community of color on the gubernatorial ticket.

    Mark Brewer, the chief high priest and commanding scribe of the Michigan Democratic Party, should welcome this idea. The party should have a minority on the ticket who will be well supported and not subjected to the kind of political trickery former candidate for attorney general Amos Williams, an African American with cross appeal, suffered.

    Williams, despite winning the party nomination on the floor of the convention at Cobo Hall, attracting veterans from up North and the west side of the state, was left hung to dry with little or no real money (roughly about $60,000) to wage a battle against a million dollar candidate like Mike Cox.

    It was the highest form of political insult I witnessed covering the 2004 statewide campaign of a candidate who was not only a Vietnam veteran but an accomplished lawyer and police officer.

    It was evident that Williams could win because he secured the floor nomination from every constituency around the state, not only African Americans. So he was not just a Black candidate. He was competent and had the appeal.

    But perhaps Williams’ defeat of the so-called favorite Democratic candidate, Scott Bowen, the judge from Grand Rapids on the nomination floor, must have dried up the wallets of the party donors.

    Did the Dems refuse to release the fundraising dollars because Williams was an African American whom they suspect may not win despite his nomination? Even though he had a statewide appeal were the party chiefs still thinking he was not viable?

    If the Dems are serious about having a minority on the ticket they need to demonstrate that with action oriented efforts.

    Gov. Howard Dean said a couple of years ago at a Democratic function in downtown Detroit that it is time for the party’s ticket to reflect its voting communities. That is one sure way to energize the vote.

    It’s foolhardy to think that cultural inclinations and experiences have nothing to do with how people vote. Find out from the Tea Party.

    Six names are circulating for potential candidacy for lieutenant governor in the Democratic camp so far.

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