by Heber Brown, III
On the same day that Stephanie Rawlings-Blake was being formerly inaugurated into the office of Mayor of Baltimore, State Senator C. Anthony Muse met with Baltimore clergy at First Apostolic Faith Church to share his ideas related to a potential run for U.S. Senate.
The Baltimore-native and and Prince George’s County Pastor currently is serving his second term as State Senator representing Maryland’s 26th Legislative District.
In a room of nearly two dozen Baltimore-area clergy, Muse shared his concerns related to challenges in the country and specifically in the Black Community. He lamented the lackluster response to Black unemployment by those representing Maryland on Capitol Hill, and pledged that his priority as a U.S. Senator would center on job creation. In familiar clergy cadence, he also spoke about education, housing issues, and his vote against the redistricting plan which, he said, negatively impacts Maryland’s Black community resulting in the potential loss of millions of dollars.
It wasn’t lost on the clergy in attendance that the 42 million African Americans in this country don’t have one Black Senator to point to on Capitol Hill. In fact, as of 2011, only six African Americans have ever served as a U.S. Senator – with the first one, Rev. Hiram Revels, having a Baltimore connection as well. The historic undertones were and are clear.
That notwithstanding, defeating the incumbent in this race, Senator Ben Cardin would be a monumental feat for any challenger. Cardin, who has been in Maryland politics since 1967, has a long political track-record, firm name recognition, and the solidified support of the Jewish community of which he is a member.
Thanks to his congressional staffer, Jerome Stephens, who is also a Baltimore minister, Cardin has relationships with Baltimore-area Black clergy as well – providing some with material and financial support for their various ministry outreach endeavors. A reality that may keep some Baltimore clergy in Cardin’s camp.
The hinge on which this election may swing just may center on the question of whether the Black community will get solidly behind Muse as the Jewish community is solidly behind Cardin.
Muse won’t likely win the fundraising contest, but if Blacks unite behind him, he has a real chance of becoming the next U.S. Senator of the United States – essentially representing not just Maryland’s Black Community, but being a voice at the table for Blacks across the Nation.
Perhaps this is why President Obama offered a very early endorsement of Senator Cardin.
In the 2006 U.S. Senate election, Cardin defeated Lt. Governor Michael Steele in the general election by 10 percentage points, but lost by wide margins in Baltimore City and Prince George’s County – Maryland’s most populous Black districts that are overwhelmingly democrat. Perhaps the more ominous numbers from the 2006 campaign are that Cardin only garnered 257,000 votes in the democratic primary against Kweisi Mfume. Since that time, upwards of 300,000 new Black voters have come on the rolls in Maryland – most in 2008 to support then-candidate Obama for president. These same voters are more likely to return to the polls in the presidential election of 2012 to vote on a ballot that in addition to Obama, may also have C. Anthony Muse’s name on it.
What does all of this mean? Well, it means that a strong Black candidate with solidified and enthusiastic support from the Black community has a real chance of defeating Senator Ben Cardin and making history for the Black community once again on April 3, 2012 – the date of the Primary Election.
The Black Community will not only have the opportunity to send a Black Man back to the White House as president, but to send a Black Man to the Senate too.
This should be quite an interesting race.
Heber M. Brown, III is a clergy-activist who serves alongside a variety of community organizations that address issues of homelessness, poverty, racism, worker’s rights, environmental justice, self-determination for Afrikan people and justice for oppressed people groups throughout the world.
He is a regular voice in local media and for nearly 5 years has explored the intersection of religion, policy, and activism on this blog appropriately called Faith in Action.