Tea Party Versus Black Voters

Right wing activist claims GOP doesn't want minority voters

Tea Party Versus Black Voters

The Republican Party of Texas is in trouble when it comes to minority support. So it doesn't help when one of their leading Tea Party activists says the GOP doesn't want more black Texans at the ballot box.

The head-shaking quote came from Ken Emanuelson, a Tea Party activist with deep connections to the Dallas County Republican Party. He was leading a meeting of Battlefield Dallas County, the GOP's response to Battleground Texas, the new Democratic group aiming at the grand target of turning Texas blue. The RPT is terrified of Battleground Texas (at the meeting, RPT chair Steve Munisteri actually thanked the absent Democrats for doing something that he could never manage: Getting the Republican National Committee to commit cash to Texas "Get-Out-The-Vote" operations.) But Republicans are more worried about demographics than Democratic activists. The simple fact is that minority voter participation is rising, and minorities tend not to vote Republican.

Rather than proclaiming Dallas County a GOP safe haven for Republicans, Emanuelson fired a warning shot across his own party's bows by calling it "absolutely contested territory." However, his plans to motivate everyone in the room fell short when he took a harmless but significant question from John Lawson, pastor of Children of God Ministry in Dallas. Lawson is no screaming liberal (in fact, he is a regular correspondent for texasgopvote.com), and so he simply asked, "What are the Republicans doing to get black people to vote?"

Emanuelson's response: "Well, I'm going to be real honest with you. The Republican Party doesn't want black people to vote if they're going to vote nine to one for Democrats."

Here's the audio of the exchange:

Lawson continued, "Well, what are you doing to get them to vote differently?"

"That is the more important question," said Emanuelson, who argued that the party won't be able to make real dents into minority voting patterns before 2014.

His phrasing was at best inartful. So, unsurprisingly, Democrats leapt on Emanuelson's comments (not least Battleground Texas: Emanuelson has raised their profile above just the background morass of fly-by-night GOTV groups.) Similarly, Congressman Marc Veasey, D-Fort Worth, responded, "Well, I am going to be real honest with you, Mr. Emanuelson – the Republican Party discounts communities of color at their own peril and attacks like these only serve to embolden us for the long road ahead."

Even less surprisingly, Emanuelson took a break from filling his Twitter feed with anti-immigration reform/anti-IRS cant to distance himself from his own comments. In an email to Wayne Slater at the Dallas Morning News, he wrote that it was a "mistake", that he was simply expressing a personal opinion, and since he does not hold a position with the RPT, he should not have spoken on the issue.

Huh. That's interesting, since Emanuelson and Dallas County Republican Party vice-chair Lisa Perdue, were heading up the grassroots discussion part of the meeting.

Digging his hole ever deeper, Emanuelson wrote, "What I meant, and should have said, is that it is not, in my personal opinion, in the interests of the Republican Party to spend its own time and energy working to generally increase the number of Democratic voters at the polls, and at this point in time, nine of every ten African American voters cast their votes for the Democratic Party."

It's a bad time for the GOP's minority outreach (and we're not just talking about Judge Edith Jones racial ruminations.) In May, the Tampa Bay Times obtained a letter from former Republican Party of Florida Minority Outreach Coordinator Pablo Pantoja, saying he was quitting the Republican Party to become a Democrat. His reason? The GOP is too tolerant of passive and active racists within its ranks.

In his letter, Pantoja wrote, "Some Republican leaders have blandly (if at all) denied and distanced themselves from this but it doesn’t take away from the culture within the ranks of intolerance. The pseudo-apologies appear to be a quick fix to deep-rooted issues in the Republican Party in hopes that it will soon pass and be forgotten." The quick consensus was that he was quitting over a Heritage Foundation study claiming that Hispanic people will always have low IQs. However, Pantoja continued, "We are not looking at an isolated incident of rhetoric or research."

Wonder what he would make of Emanuelson's little faux pas.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

READ MORE
More Republican Party of Texas
GOP Ousts Robert Morrow? Maybe.
GOP Ousts Robert Morrow? Maybe.
State chair claims Travis County chair resigned

Richard Whittaker, Aug. 25, 2016

Greg Abbott and the Nuge
Greg Abbott and the Nuge
Democrats wonder why Abbott stumps with 'admitted sexual predator'

Richard Whittaker, Feb. 18, 2014

More Election 2014
The Run-Off: Live Election Coverage
The Run-Off: Live Election Coverage
An historic race crosses the finish line

the News Staff, Dec. 16, 2014

Voting Turnout Bad, But How Bad?
Voting Turnout Bad, But How Bad?
Finding precedents for an unprecedented election

Richard Whittaker, Dec. 10, 2014

More by Richard Whittaker
Lulu Wang Introduces Us to <i>The Farewell</i>
Lulu Wang Introduces Us to The Farewell
Director talks identity, family, and Awkwafina's superpower

July 19, 2019

The Lion King
Can you feel the shrug tonight?

July 19, 2019

KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

Republican Party of Texas, Election 2014, Steve Munisteri, Battleground Texas, Voters, Minority Voters, Elections, Tea Party, Battlefield Dallas, Marc Veasey, Ken Emanuelson

MORE IN THE ARCHIVES
NEWSLETTERS
One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Updates for SXSW 2019

All questions answered (satisfaction not guaranteed)

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle