And it hurts Democrats next year in the Governor’s race. This all-whites-are-bigots kind of thing from Lucas and Marsh on TV has got to come to an end in Virginia politics.
by Paul Goldman
Senator Lucas and Senator Marsh say they are speaking honestly and want an honest discussion of race and politics in Virginia. Okay, let’s give them what they want. I have known them both for a long time. They need to stop the “all white people” are bigots kind of thing. Those of us who actually know how to win statewide elections know that what they said on TV the other day hurts, not helps, the President and Tim Kaine this year. And frankly, Louise and Henry know it too.
Let’s review how they first got to the Senate. In practical terms, it was due to the work of myself and others to help Doug Wilder get elected Governor in 1989. Why? Because in practical terms, neither would have been elected to the Senate that year but for Doug being the Governator.
1990 was a redistricting year. The Democrats in control of the Senate passed a redistricting plan that would have made it very hard for either Lucas or Marsh to win the “open” seats available to them.
Wilder asked me what I thought about the Democratic plan that passed the Senate. I said it violated the Voting Rights Act. There was no way he could sign it. He knew that already of course.
Wilder asked how many African-American districts the federal law required, the one the Democrats in the Senate and the General Assembly wanted to violate. I said five, although the ACLU and others disagreed.
Wilder had already been thinking the same number but he was under a lot of pressure from a lot of Democrats not to go for five. The reason: Given the politics of the state, drawing those districts would mean a good number of new GOP senators would be elected in newly drawn GOP districts. And a few incumbent Democrats might lose also. That was the reality.
A lot of Democrats where thus furious at me – since I was Democratic party chair – for agreeing with the Governor. But it was a matter of principle with me, I didn’t have anything to gain. In fact, they would later try to punish me for backing Wilder’s plan because it cost Democrats seats.
But principle matters.
Wilder told me to draw five districts, but to make sure Marsh and Benny Lambert, who had been elected to Wilder’s seat in Richmond when Doug became Lieutenant Governor, were not placed in the same Senate district! As Party Chair, I was the first to buy some new software to help map districts. I remember Senators coming to the party offices to draw the seats, even the one that cost then Democratic Senator Jack Kennedy his seat because Senate Dems didn’t want him back!!
I objected, but they didn’t care.
So we drafted a seat for Henry and the one in Portsmouth that Mrs. Lucas has held now for a generation. So, I know them for a long time and respect them.
BUT THE FACT IS: It is easy for them to do what they did on TV yesterday: Mrs. Lucas flat out saying whites that vote for Romney are racist and don’t want African Americans in high political office, and Mr. Marsh saying he fully agrees with Mrs. Lucas.
Why? It plays well in their constituency. As they say, all politics is local.
So let’s cut to the chase: Without the support of whites – in 1985, I was the only white person willing to be Wilder’s campaign manager – Doug couldn’t have gotten elected. Same for 1989, just look at the voting statistics. Were there whites who voted against Wilder on the basis of race? Of course. There were also whites who voted against Kennedy on religion. But that doesn’t mean every white person who voted against Doug or JFK was a bigot.
Fact: There are any number of African Americans who will always vote for an African American in a race against a white candidate, that is well known among those in politics. Does that make them all anti-white bigots? Of course not.
THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT LUCAS AND MARSH’S COMMENTS: Given their political constituency, it is easy for them to attack all whites as bigots, it will not hurt them in their own constituency. Moreover, they know it will sound good to their constituents who are strong Obama supporters.
BUT: They also know it will hurt other Democrats. That’s right, it HURTS the President, it hurts Tim Kaine, who have to run in different constituencies to get elected to the presidency, the Senate, statewide next year for Governor.
THAT’S RIGHT: It is a cynical, selfish, and self-serving game Senators Lucas and Marsh are playing. Big time!
Yes, there is, unfortunately, a racial, religious aspect to politics. But in terms of Senator Lucas winning her seat initially, and the same for Senator Marsh, they have benefited from the Voting Rights Act, which is what got them elected originally. They benefited from Doug Wilder’s election, even though Marsh especially tried to stop Doug from winning in 1985.
YOU WANT THE TRUTH SENATORS LUCAS AND MARSH: The truth is that making these kinds of blanket statements sound good to your constituents, but they HURT THE PRESIDENT, TIM KAINE and other Democrats. And you know it.
For those of us with a real record of knowing how to win statewide races know you aren’t helping. “White people” are not bigots. Bigots come in all colors, all genders, all sizes. The President and Doug Wilder won Virginia.
This kind of “all whites are bigots” kind of thing from Lucas and Marsh on TV has got to come to an end in Virginia politics