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Why Black Republicans are gaining ground nationwide

The nation is experiencing a political “coming out of the closet” moment right now for a significant number of African-Americans who are not only supporting Republican candidates, but also running on the Republican ticket.

It’s a long-overdue reckoning of sorts for the Democrats as blacks reconsider —if not outright abandon — the party in favor of the GOP.

This shift has been evolving slowly and steadily.

In July 2023, for instance, Georgia State Representative, Mesha Mainor switched, a life-long Democrat in a deep blue Atlanta district, switched to the Republican Party making her the first-ever black woman to serve as a Republican in the Georgia General Assembly. 

What would compel Mainor to make such a bold move? 

As she noted this past July, “black children cannot read or perform simple math in marginalized communities. In my district, some of the stats show as little as 2% to 3% academic proficiency.”

Lifelong Democrat Rep. Mesha Mainor switched parties and was elected to a long-time Blue district in Atlanta in 2022. AP

In September 2023, the mayor of Dallas, TX, Eric Johnson also migrated to the Republican Party.

Johnson believes, “the future of America’s great urban centers depends on the willingness of the nation’s mayors to champion law and order and practice fiscal conservatism.”

Democrats are not leading this charge, and so a move to the other side made sense.

Mainor and Johnson made the switch for common-sense reasons such as school choice, law and order, and fiscal conservatism.

And they’re hardly alone.

Take Alabama. Back in 2021, Kenneth Paschal became the first black Republican in 140-years elected to the Alabama House of Legislature. 

Paschal won the general election to fill House District 73, defeating Democratic candidate Sheridan Black with 75% of the vote.

Before Tim Scott of South Carolina was appointed Senator, he was elected as a congressman in the district that included Charleston in 2011.

This matters: Charleston was where the first shots of the American Civil War were fired in 1861.

Some 150 year’s later, Scott’s victory was notable in that he beat out other Republican primary candidates — all white men —within a predominantly white district to win the congressional seat.  

When the new Congress convened in January 2023, it included more black Republicans serving together on Capitol Hill since 1877. 

Although the actual numbers are small — just five GOP African-Americans — just three years before, there was only one black Republican serving in the U.S. Congress

As a former Republican candidate for Governor of Minnesota, I am confident that even more black Republicans will run and win political office along with a higher percentage of black votes cast for Republicans of all ethnicities.  

Much like a century ago, racial politics are front and center in this election year and black Americans are projected to vote Republican in the highest percentage in decades. 

Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson also recently defected from the Democrats and is now a Republican. Photo by R.J. Hinkle

Truth be told, Americans — regardless of race — have been migrating to Republican-led states for 160-years and continue to do so until this day. 

In 2022, the top five states that saw the most outbound migration were led by Democrats – while the states with the highest inbound migration were Republican-led.

What’s the underlying motivator this election year? 

Black Americans will hold Democrats responsible for the out-of-control illegal immigration taking their toll on the economies of urban centers across the country.

Education choice is another major motivator for a majority of black Americans and they believe Democrats are the cause of a lack of schooling options. 

High crime and defund the police initiatives are also contributing to the African-American rightward push; even Minneapolis — the epicenter of the Defund the Police movement — rejected a key 2021 ballot officer reduction initiative as a result of black voters. 

In 2021, Kenneth Paschal became the first black Republican in 140-years elected to the Alabama House of Legislature.  AP

For many historians, the migration of black Americans towards Republicanism is not a surprise. 

Between 1910 and 1970 in what is known as the Great Migration, 6 million blacks fled Democrat-controlled southern states to Republican-led states in the north and northeast.

Their improved circumstances affected their voting pattern. 

In fact, by 1968, Richard Nixon won 32 percent of black vote.  

Perhaps this year, Republicans can convince voters — black, white, or other — that if they can be trusted to relocate their families, businesses, and worldly possessions, they can also be trusted with their vote.  

If they accomplish that, I’d give the GOP a “B+” for marketing and branding. 

Why not an “A”?  Because it took Republicans too long to figure this out.   

This story originally appeared on NYPost

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