Godwin, Some Times You Just Don't Come Through


Michigan—home of the Wolverines and stagnant responses to health care crises—is locked in a tight gubernatorial race between job-killing Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm and Republican Amway mogul Dick DeVos. Until now the race, the election was a high-toned policy battle about who could get the state back on track. And then came this crap.

It's an ad (full image here) placed in the minor Michigan Chronicle newspaper by Voice the Vote, a small conservative action committee sheparded by the wonderfully-monikered Adolph Mongo. The point of the ad is that African-Americans should bolt a Democratic party that has always taken them for granted. And while there's nothing wrong with invoking Hitler or this anecdote to make that point, doing so in electoral politics will always, always backfire. DeVos has already condemned the ad, and the GOP is scurrying away from it with warp speed.

Even assuming this ad is a two-day story, it's knocking conservatives off their game at a crucial time. Michigan is the battleground for the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, an anti-discrimination/affirmative action measure backed by Ward Connerly. This was always going to be a contentious, close-run fight, as Michigan is absurdly racially divided—African-Americans in Detroit overwhelmingly vote for Democrats, whites in the rest of the state narrowly vote Republican. This ad is exactly the kind of crap MCRI opponents will need to rally black Democats to vote against the measure and DeVos.

Of course, Michigan's also Exhibit A of one of the season's big political busts—the "Year of the Black Republican." Last year, when Republicans were brimming with confidence and shooting for 60 Senate seats, GOP Chairman Ken Mehlman planned on "raiding" Democratic bases—like African-Americans—to build the majority. The party recruited four black candidates for statewide office—Michigan's Rev. Keith Butler and Maryland's Michael Steele for Senate, and Ken Blackwell (Ohio) and Lynn Swann (Pennsylvania) for governor. All of their campaigns in various stages of dissaray, with Butler's collapsing at the quickest pace. That never-take-you-for-granted GOP Mongo is selling to black Democrats actually recruited a white, suburban sheriff into the race after Butler—a 1984 chairman of blacks for Reagan/Bush—failed to catch fire with voters.

An attractive black Republican candidate, a flagging Democratic governor—and conservatives and libertarians blow a promising opening with black voters. Again.