Last week my super PAC, Black Americans for a Better Future, launched its inaugural speaker’s series with Maryland Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford. This was his first national media event since being sworn into office back in January.
Rutherford is a phenomenal administrator and Maryland’s governor, Larry Hogan, could not have chosen a better person to be his running mate.
Rutherford is a native of Washington, D.C. and graduated from Howard University and the University of Southern California’s (USC) law school.
Unlike many Black Republicans, he does not run away from his Blackness, but rather embraces it.
That’s why when the violence erupted in Baltimore earlier this year, he and the governor got rave reviews on their response. Both Black and White; liberal and conservative praised them for how they kept things from getting even worse.
They are exhibit A in how Republicans can deal with a racial issue and stay true to their conservative values; both the governor and lieutenant governor had long lasting ties to the Black community well before they sought public office.
After my interview with the lieutenant governor, I then moderated a focus group consisting of several Black Independents, Republicans, and Democrats. This focus group verified everything that I have been saying and writing about for decades—that the Black community is indeed open to voting for a Republican candidate.
The first question I asked the panel was: “Is there anyone on the panel who would never vote Republican?” Not one person raised their hand. Each panelist stated unequivocally that they were not averse to voting for a Republican; but they indicated that no Republican had ever dialogued with them, nor taken time to find out what was important to them.
One of the Democratic panelists who shared this sentiment was Russell Fugett, son of football legend, Jean Fugett. The Fugett name is synonymous with entrepreneurship and the Democratic Party in the city of Baltimore. They are like the Kennedys of Baltimore.
So for a Fugett to say they are at least open to a Republican conversation is a powerful statement. BriaMarie, a rising R&B/Hip-Hop artist and a registered Democrat, like Fugett; indicated that she and her fellow twentysomething friends would consider voting Republican, but no Republican had ever engaged with her.
Jack Brewer, a former NFL player, a registered Independent, and a serial entrepreneur ranted about the devastating economic policies coming out of the Obama administration that is making it very difficult for him to create more jobs.
We also had people like Allegra McCullough, a former regional administrator for the Small Business Administration (SBA) under George W. Bush and serial entrepreneur Larry McKenney on the panel. Both are registered Republicans.
They have no relationship with any Black staffer within the party. How can you expand the base of the party when you are not even in communication with known Republicans?
I asked the panelists could they name one Black Republican staffer and no one could. Therein lies the problem. If any of these folks wanted to join or become active in the Republican Party, they would not know how to do it or who to talk to.
So, Black Americans for a Better Future will fill the void. We know the issues that will move the Black vote; and we know the “centers of influence (COIs)” within the Black community.
We have already received hundreds of phone calls and emails requesting us to replicate last week’s event at the National Press Club throughout the country; and we will accommodate these requests.
We have even had several presidential campaigns reach to us about providing an opportunity for their candidates to speak before these Black entrepreneurs across the country.
We are also establishing a national data base of Black elected Republicans, since no one in the party thinks this is important enough to do.
In January, we will launch our surrogates program where we have Black Republicans who are working with BAFABF booked on all the talking head TV shows, radio shows and interviewed in various newspapers across the country.
In December we will have several major announcements regarding some of our future activities as we head in to the new year.
Blacks are begging the Republican Party to give them a reason to look at our party as we head towards next year’s presidential election. But the party seems so obsessed with data that they haven’t even contemplated a vision for how to get the Black vote from 9% to 15% by next year.
BAFABF has both a plan and a vision. Later this week I will release the video of both my interview with the lieutenant governor of Maryland, Boyd Rutherford and the focus group for those who could not attend the event. The video will also be given to every presidential campaign.
No longer will the Republican Party be able to say “they can’t find Blacks to hire for their campaigns;” nor will they ever be able to say that Blacks won’t vote for a Republican. Since the party is so focused on data, I have data from some of the most respected and most successful Blacks in American that says they are open to the Republican message; now the question is, what is the party prepared to do once they see the video?