from slavery and put our right to vote in the Constitution” and “started the NAACP, affirmative action, and the HBCUs [historically black colleges and universities].” Noted historians have already disputed the factual accuracy of the ad.
Shortly after the airing of the ad, Steele released a statement demanding that the NBRA pull the spot. He said: “NBRA’s current radio ad is insulting to Marylanders and should come down immediately. Although they may have good intentions, there is no room for this kind of slash-and-burn partisan politics in the important conversation about how to best bring meaningful c
hange to Washington, D.C. and get something do
ne for Maryland. This is exactly the kind of politics Marylanders are sick of and why it is time to change this Washington brand of cut-throat politics.”
NBRA President Francis Rice, who could not prove such claims as King’s partisanship, refuses to cancel the ads, which have also aired in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Florida.
A BRIDGE TO STEELE
Of the three candidates, Steele has most positioned himself as being outside of the Republican establishment. In a state with a history of voting Democratic in statewide elections (when Robert Erlich Jr. and Steele won the 2002 election, it was the first Republican ticket to win the statehouse in 40 years), Steele created what he calls a “crossover campaign” designed to gain as much as 25% of the black vote. When the 47-year-old former international investment lawyer and party chairman launched his campaign, he promised to be a “bridge of steel” between Democrats and Republicans, between Capitol Hill and Main Street. During the campaign, Steele has crossed party lines and showed up at a fundraiser for his “old friend,” black Democratic Rep. Albert Wynn. In fact, Steele criticized the Bush administration’s handling of the Iraq War and response to Hurricane Katrina: “What I feel is a need to be honest with Maryland voters — that means giving straight talk and not being afraid to criticize what’s wrong in both parties. When I disagree with the president, I stand up and [say] so. As I do when I agree with him. The voters deserve no less,” he says. “Hurricane Katrina was our 9-11, and it reminded us of something many have forgotten — there are still poor people in America. When President Bush went to New York after the terrorist attacks, he did not just fly over, he got on the ground and met with those affected by the attacks and the first responders courageously working to save lives. He should have done the same in New Orleans.”
These moves have enabled Steele to garner support that a GOP candidate would not normally receive. In fact, he recently received an endorsement from entrepreneur Russell Simmons. Says Steele: “Russell and I both know not enough people in either party are willing to even say the word ‘poverty,’ much less do anything about it. That’s why I have unveiled an economic empowerment agenda that I will take with me to the United States Senate. Empowerment creates opportunity