Black gains expected Nov. 4. Top offices elusive but US House, local prospects good
Political experts predict the election of four new black congressmen Nov. 4, increasing the number of blacks in the House of Representatives to 25. And they say that there will be a general increase in the number of black state and local elected officals across the United States, although at this time neither of the two blacks running for governor this fall -- Democrat Tom Bradley in California and Republican William Lucas in Michigan -- is favored to win.
Bearing on the effectiveness of the black vote and the success of black candidates this fall, the experts say, are an increasing willingness among black voters to spurn familiar names and base their vote on other factors, and the fact that white voters are showing strength in deciding who is elected in areas where they are in the minority.
The annual fall weekend here of the Congressional Black Caucus earlier this month was really a summit meeting of black US political leaders, along with business, civil rights, and community activists. The caucus set two immediate goals:
To add at least four new black congressmen to the present 21 (all Democrats) in the House. One of the new black members could be a Republican.
To help Rep. Charles Rangel (D) of New York get elected in January as Democratic whip of the House of Representatives. The post is third in rank to the speaker of the house and the majority leader.
The nomination of John Lewis for the US House over fellow black civil rights activist Julian Bond in Georgia's Fifth District was seen as a clear example of the tendency of blacks to look beyond the ``big name,'' as well as the ability of white minorities to tip the balance in close contests. The minority white voters in Atlanta's Democratic primary preferred Mr. Lewis in this district, once represented by Mayor Andrew Young of Atlanta.
Another key factor in the power of the black vote is that blacks are keeping a more watchful eye on election contests between white candidates.
``Blacks must pay particular attention to the senatorial elections in 1986,'' says Eddie N. Williams, president of the Joint Center for Political Studies, a black think tank in Washington. He notes that US senators approve presidential appointees such as ambassadors and federal judges and that they have a strong influence on foreign policy, as evidenced in the recent voting of sanctions against South Africa.