Florida GOP hangs Joshua Black out to dry

Truth be told, I didn’t know who Joshua Black was until I heard “The Steve Harvey Morning Show” crew talk about him. Who is Joshua Black? He’s a far-right Republican candidate for the Florida state house who sent out a tweet on the Martin Luther King holiday calling for the execution of President Obama. Oh, and he’s African American.

The 2011 2011 drone strikes that killed U.S. citizens abroad, including al-Qaeda operative Anwar al-Awlaki and his son, were the trigger for Black’s ire. In subsequent tweets Black called the president a “traitor” akin to Benedict Arnold, who, Black noted, was hanged after his trial. In an interview with Adam Smith of the Tampa Bay Times, he revealed that the Secret Service was waiting at his home to talk to him.

Sad to say, I wasn’t surprised by this. Right-wing folks have been saying irrational things about Obama, including calling for his impeachment and worse, since the glow of the president’s election wore off not long after his 2009 inauguration. But here’s what’s different this time. Republicans pushed back and pushed back hard against Black.

After seeing Republicans time and again defend the indefensible or pretend no problem existed, the reaction to Black was welcome. Seven minutes after Black’s death-to-the-president tweet, Chris Latvala, a Republican candidate for the state house district next door, responded.

When Black told Latvala to “#MindYourOwnBusiness” in a later tweet, Latvala wrote back, “I make it my business when so called GOP candidates become an embarrassment to my beloved party.” And Latvala wasn’t the only Republican to respond to Black, who “had been practicing street evangelism” in St. Louis before moving to St. Petersburg in 2007.

Gov. Rick Scott (J. Pat Carter/AP)
Gov. Rick Scott (J. Pat Carter/Associated Press)

“It is impossible to accept this statement,” Pinellas GOP Chairman Michael Guju told the Tampa Bay Times last week. “This is wholly unacceptable and unduly provocative.” After Black resigned from the Pinellas Republican Party executive committee, the state party chairman reportedly tweeted, “Good.” Gov. Rick Scott (R) resigned his membership in the Pinellas County GOP and called on Black to “withdraw his candidacy.”

As of this writing, Black is still in the race. And after perusing his rather extreme Facebook page, he might be crazy enough to stay in the race until the bitter end. What’s even crazier is Black’s rationale for seeking elective office in the first place. “Republicans have a serious communication problem. Everything we say sounds like spears,” he writes on his campaign Web site. “We find ways to energize our core supporters, the people who will always only ever vote Republican, but we have a hard time explaining to anyone else why they should listen to our solutions.”

On this point, Black is at once exactly right and living proof of it.

Follow Jonathan on Twitter: @Capehartj

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.
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