Correction to This Article
Because of a production error, an unrelated photograph was superimposed on a photo of Wayne K. Curry with an Oct. 31 Metro article on a coalition of black Democrats endorsing Republican Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele in Maryland's U.S. Senate contest.

Black Democrats Cross Party Lines To Back Steele For U.S. Senate

Democrat Wayne K. Curry, right, said he decided to cross party lines to back  Republican Michael S. Steele, left, because Steele is a
Democrat Wayne K. Curry, right, said he decided to cross party lines to back Republican Michael S. Steele, left, because Steele is a "good man with a good plan." (By Sarah L. Voisin -- The Washington Post)

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By Ovetta Wiggins
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A coalition of black Democratic political leaders from Prince George's County led by former county executive Wayne K. Curry endorsed Republican Michael S. Steele's bid for the U.S. Senate yesterday.

The support from Curry, five County Council members and others barely a week before Election Day reflects their continued disappointment that the Democratic Party has no African American candidates at the top of the ticket and a sense that the county is being ignored, officials said.

"They show us a pie, but we never get a slice," said Major F. Riddick Jr., a former aide to then-Gov. Parris N. Glendening and a former county executive candidate. "We are here today to say we've waited and we've waited and we're waiting no longer."

Steele, who as lieutenant governor is the first African American elected statewide in Maryland, said he was humbled by the support. "I said I did not want this [campaign] to be so much about party but about the people," he said. "And these people understand that."

Ron Walters, a political science professor at the University of Maryland, said the endorsements could be significant. "This is going to go through the black community like a rocket," he said. "It's going to be the talk of the county, the state, maybe even the nation."

Oren Shur, a spokesman for the Democratic Senate candidate, Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, was more skeptical. "The endorsements will not make Prince George's County residents forget that Michael Steele is George W. Bush's handpicked candidate," he said.

The politicians were joined at a news conference in Largo by about a half-dozen business leaders, including Ron Lipscomb, a trustee of the state Democratic Party.

All said they are lifelong Democrats who do not agree with some of Steele's stances but are not in lock step with the Democratic Party, either.

"The party acts as though when they want our opinion they'll give it to us," said Curry, Prince George's first black county executive. "It will not be like that anymore."

He noted that support for a Republican is not unprecedented: In 2002, Democrat Kathleen Kennedy Townsend picked a GOP running mate in her gubernatorial bid, passing over a black candidate.

This year, Democratic contender Martin O'Malley is running with an African American from Prince George's County, Del. Anthony Brown. But black Democrats who ran for the U.S. Senate and state attorney general lost in the primary.

Curry would not answer questions about Brown, but he said the state Democratic Party had "trivialized" Prince George's, though it provides the "mother lode of votes in the state of Maryland."


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