Maryland Senator’s Bid to Unseat Popular White Incumbent Raises Interesting Questions

Maryland Senator’s Bid to Unseat Popular White Incumbent Raises Interesting Questions

Maryland state Sen. C. Anthony Muse is challenging a white incumbent U.S. senator. Should he wait his turn or fight to give Blacks a voice in the Senate?

Published January 12, 2012

(Photo: Maryland State Senate)

Maryland state Sen. C. Anthony Muse has set a lofty New Year’s resolution to unseat incumbent U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin. Muse says he didn’t make the decision lightly and spent the past six months traveling the state to see if his message could gain momentum and if that momentum would turn into fundraising dollars, he would make a bid for the seat. He didn’t want to be one of those politicians who launches a campaign and then learns too late that the goal isn’t viable.


Since formally announcing his bid last week, Muse’s candidacy has raised some interesting questions. Should African-Americans in states where most of the political leaders are white “wait their turn” or dare to believe they can be the kind of change Barack Obama spoke about in 2008? And if someone like Muse challenges a popular incumbent, should other African-American leaders stand behind him?


Muse says that while he’s received a good deal of encouragement, he also was advised by some to indeed wait his turn, a notion that he finds offensive. That’s because he realizes that if he did that, his turn might never come because there are white lawmakers who may feel they’re ahead of him in the line to one day succeed Cardin, who has no plans to retire anytime soon.


Former U.S. congressman Kweisi Mfume, also a former president of the NAACP, tried and failed to unseat Cardin in 2006. This time around, he’s endorsing the white lawmaker.


Maryland Del. Jill P. Carter has described the endorsement as a “betrayal” of the African-American community, but Mfume insists he’s just keeping it real.


“At some point we have to be serious with ourselves, and our people, and stop getting our community ‘fired up’ for electoral failure—because at some point their frustrations of losing will keep them at home during critical election years,” he said, adding that 90 days isn’t enough time to win the upcoming April primary.


Mfume believes that African-Americans need to look at a more realistic timeline, such as two or three years ahead, so that they can “take advantage of Maryland’s growing minority population” and “capitalize off of our Democratic power, translating into political office statewide.”


Muse, on the other hand, believes that voters should make that choice.


“The Democratic Party in Maryland is faced with a dilemma. If it didn’t have the African-American vote almost all of the state’s politicians would be Republicans,” he said. “It’s okay to say we should have a seat now. That’s the democratic process.”


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Written by Joyce Jones


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