Thursday, February 4, 2010

RNC’s Top Tier Requirement Treats African American Republican Candidates as Second Class Republicans

RNC’s Top Tier Requirement Treats African American Republican Candidates as Second Class Republicans

According to the National Republican African American Caucus [NRAAC] Chair, Dr. Jean Howard-Hill, “The RNC expects us to get out there and use our organizations to support white Republican candidates to win back a Republican majority in Congress. However, when it comes to African American candidates, even those running unopposed in Republican primaries, they have mandated of our candidates a top tier requirement, before they can render financial support.”

“If this is not differential treatment,” she asks, “then what is?”

The “top tier” requirement stems from a February 3, 2010 RNC conference call with Congressman Devin Numes, facilitated by RNC National Republican Congressional Coalitions Director, Mike Bober. During that conference call, the National Republican African American Caucus’ national chair, Dr. Jean Howard-Hill was among the three, (and the only African American) to field questions to Congressman Numes after he made his pitch for coalition support for Republican congressional candidates emerging from the February Republican primary elections in early primary states including Illinois.

Howard-Hill’s question was centered around concern over African American Republican congressional candidates who are running unopposed in the Republican primary in predominantly African American districts who need RNC support. Specifically, she used as an example, NRAAC’s board member, Isaac Hayes who is running for Congress in Illinois in an uncontested Republican race against Democrat Congressman Jesse Jackson.

According to the NRAAC national chair, the answer given by Congressman Numes was that African American candidates have to reach the top tier requirement before they can be supported because of RNC’s limited resources. Howard-Hill attempted to follow-up with the question of what the top tier requirement entailed, but was not permitted to do so, as the conference was brought to a close.

“It seems to me that this is saying to us as African American Republican candidates that even if you don’t have opposition in the primary race, the RNC still is not willing to support our unopposed candidacies. It also seems that this kind of ‘top tier requirement’ is just another way of counting us out as viable candidates.”

She says that without financial backing and other RNC resources, it makes it very difficult for African American Republican congressional candidates to wage successful campaigns and to get their message out.

“No one is expecting RNC to do the work or to carry the full load, but just as other candidates are given financial backing and support, then there should not be an exception with African American candidates.”

She also says that this is an issue which the NRAAC plans on discussing with Mike Bober at the RNC.

“You would think that because there is no African American Republican serving in Congress, that an uncontested primary candidate would be targeted by the RNC, and every effort made to ensure a strong race. But that is not the case, which makes you question if RNC is serious about inclusion at this level. The Republican Party claims it wants us, but when it comes to true inclusion, we are treated like second class Republicans. This is something which has to be addressed, and until it is, we need to stop giving and stop helping to raise Republican money, none of which helps us.”

She says that although she was the only African American who asked a question, there were plenty more on the line who were just as disgusted and disturbed by the answer as she was.

“Sometimes you just get so sick and tired of what is going on in the Republican Party and how you are treated as a second class Republican no matter what you do, that you resolve to silence, lest you erupt with uncontrollable displeasure.”

She asks, “When is all of this going to end? It was 105 years since an African American Republican was elected to the House when J.C. Watts went to Congress in 1994. Now it is 2010, and still the Republican House and Senate look like an exclusively all white club. Sad to say, the RNC chair Michael Steele, now that he has been elevated from the field to the house, doesn’t seem to mind. It is like he has forgotten that it was just yesterday that he too was in the same field of cotton with us.”

The NRAAC joins with other African American Republicans in asking clarity of the RNC’s position and for an explanation as to the “top tier” requirement for support, so that African American congressional candidates can better understand what warrants RNC support.

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