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Black lawmakers have so far defended Rangel and Waters, saying they’re entitled to due process even as many Democrats worry that their insistence on public trials just before the election could deliver a devastating blow to the party in the midterm elections. While some black lawmakers have grumbled privately that race may be a factor in the ethics process, few will say that publicly.
Obama’s victory hasn’t translated into the kind of model some had hoped as primaries play out across the country.
In Alabama, Rep. Artur Davis — seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party and the black caucus — gave up his seat to run for governor. He was trounced in the Democratic primary in June by the state’s agriculture commissioner, Ron Sparks.
Rep. Kendrick Meek of Florida is making a similar long-shot bid for the U.S. Senate seat in Florida but trails badly in polls.
The only current black senator, Roland Burris, decided against running for re-election as his political benefactor — disgraced former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who appointed Burris to fill the vacant seat left by Obama — faces corruption charges.