Monday, October 1, 2012
The Durham Committee on Affairs of Black People endorse Omar Beasley instead of Fred Foster
In a move that shifts conversations related to the upcoming election for Durham’s Board of County Commission, the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People has endorsed Omar Beasley over Fred Foster. Beasley enters the election with endorsements from the DCABP and the Friends of Durham, while Foster is left depending on the strength of the People’s Alliance to win a seat on the board.
The DCABP also endorsed incumbents Michael Page and Brenda Howerton, but failed to give a nod to two candidates to fill the five seats on the commission. There was speculation that the DCABP would endorse Wendy Jacobs as a compromise for the endorsement of one of the black candidates they supported. That became complicated once leaders within the DCABP moved to support Beasley over Foster.
The People’s Alliance also endorsed only three candidates for the Board of County Commissioners – Foster, Wendy Jacobs and Ellen Reckhow. The People’s Alliance website clearly states the agenda of the PAC.
“In the Durham County Commissioner race, the threat to progressive values is not from Republicans, but from candidates who are beholden to shadowy developer super-pac money and who are not reliable on equal rights for gay and lesbian people,” the website states. “PA-PAC encourages you to override your straight democratic vote in this race by voting specifically for Foster, Jacobs, and Reckhow only. This will not affect your straight ticket vote in other races. You will still need to FLIP YOUR BALLOT and vote for progressive Judges. This is the best way to secure a progressive Durham, a progressive North Carolina, and a progressive United States.”
Those comments have further alienated Durham’s black leadership, and have seriously impacted the possibility of future collaboration between the two PAC’s. In assuming ownership of Durham’s only authentic progressive voice, the PA has entered a war zone that may shape politics in Durham for years to come.
The loser in the war is Foster, who lost his endorsement with the DCABP due to his allegiance with PA. It was logical to assume the DCABP would endorse the four black candidates, with the assurance that Foster would win due to the endorsement from both the PA and the DCABP. The PA rolled the dice on posting comments that labeled the DCABP in a way that negates the history and mission of the group. Put another way, those were fighting words.
Given the lack of support from the DCABP, Foster will be hard pressed to win in a Presidential election. The DCABP will not struggle with getting blacks out to vote, and many will lean heavily on the endorsements of the DCABP in selecting members of the commission. In addition to the support of the DCABP, Beasley benefits from the endorsement of the Friends of Durham.
By making this election a one issue race, the PA has dug a ditch that may be hard to climb out from under over the next few years. They have developed an adversarial relationship with the DCABP. They have claimed ownership related to what defines a progressive political agenda. They have spread rumors of commissioners getting paid by developers, making decisions to support the 751 project about personal gain versus how candidates feel about the project.
They have attacked the character of candidates and the credibility of an organization that has served Durham as the voice of black people. They have bullied the process by refusing to compromise, and have used Foster as an example of legitimate black leadership. They assumed he would be endorsed by the DCABP, and that he would serve in promoting their agenda.
The DCABP people took that away by endorsing Beasley over Foster. Now it’s strength versus strength. It all comes down to who can get out the most votes now – power versus power. Maybe the PA likes their odds, but something tells me they barked up the wrong tree.
Compromise could have saved the day, but folks on the PA closed the door by defining what progressive looks like in Durham.
Who wins in this type of battle?