This morning’s Post has a fascinating profile of Mia Love, the black Republican — and Mormon — who is running to represent Utah’s 4th District. If elected, she would be the first black female Republican to serve in Congress, and only the sixth black Republican to serve since the end of Reconstruction. That said, Republicans are fooling themselves if they think she will help build inroads into the African American community, as some Republicans appear to believe:
Now, her congressional race against a popular incumbent whom Republicans have struggled to defeat has made Love a minor celebrity among GOP stalwarts. […]
“Mia has a great opportunity to extend the message of liberty and economic freedom in ways that a lot of us can’t, and we’re excited about that,” said House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (Wis.) after hosting a fundraiser for her in Park City on Friday night.
A while back, I described a dilemma that faces ambitious black politicians. Because of the districts and cities they represent — mostly black, mostly liberal, and lower-income — they have a harder time finding the money and support they need to win state-wide races. But, as I also pointed out, this ceiling doesn’t exist for black Republicans, and it’s not hard to see why. Unlike their Democratic counterparts, black Republicans tend to represent white districts — after all, the vast majority of African Americans vote Democratic. If a black Republican wants to serve in Congress, she needs to win in a mostly white district.
The upside is that this makes it easier to run for statewide office. She’ll be closer to the median Utah voter and have greater opportunities for fundraising than a black Democrat representing a mostly black district. The downside, for Republicans, is that she holds little appeal to black voters; the low-tax, low-service platform of the current GOP doesn’t magically gain appeal when presented by African American politicians.
With that said, Love’s rise is a good thing for American politics. Congress needs diversity — the large majority of congresspeople are older white men. Moreover, the fact that Republicans are concerned with finding black politicians is valuable; it raises the number of entry points for African Americans who are interested in elected office. Republicans might be overestimating the electoral appeal of Love, but her symbolic value is real.