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glaser3 - Chapter 3 Racial Issues for Congressional...

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Chapter 3: Racial Issues for Congressional Campaign I. Race is always a factor in southern congressional campaigns. Racial composition of a district dictates strategy. Two campaigns for study, one in Mississippi and one in Alabama, they illustrate how Republicans have sought white votes and Democrats have sought black votes through racial issues. II. Mississippi. 4 th District. Contains Jackson, Mississippi's largest metropolitan area. Republicans achieved some of their first breakthroughs in Mississippi in this district. In 1978, Cochran became the state's first Republican Senator since Reconstruction. Another Republican, Jon Hinson, filled his congressional seat. A. In 1980, Jon Hinson acknowledges that he was arrested for an obscene act at the US Marine Corps Monument at Arlington Cemetery. He also admits to being a survivor of a fire at a gay theater. He claims that he is not gay because of a religious experience and points to his new wife as evidence. He's able to survive in his very conservative district. “Some folks would rather have a queer conservative than a macho liberal.” B. One year later, he's arrested for attempted sodomy in a public restroom. Big issue this time: his partner was black. Forced to resign in 1981, a special election is called. C. Reasons for Republican supremacy in 4 th district: whites from Jackson are strongly Republican, independent black candidates help split the democratic vote. D. Republican problems in this special election. Due to different rules, there could be no independent black candidate. Election would be held in two stages: 1.) An open nonpartisan contest to narrow the field to two candidates (if no one got at least 50 percent of the vote). 2.) A runoff between the two highest vote getters. E. Republicans figure that their best chance is to win a majority in the first election. They hold a caucus and agree that the winner will be their candidate for the election. They choose Liles Williams. F. Republicans spent more money on this first primary than on any other Mississippi congressional campaign in the state's history. Williams gets the most votes (45%) but not by the amount needed to avoid a runoff. Williams opponent in the next election would be democrat Wayne Dowdy. G. At the time of the election, legislation to extend the Voting Rights Act for five years was pending in congress. Dowdy fully supports this legislation, the only major candidate in this race to do so. H. Williams opposes the extension in an attempt to woo white voters. He argues that it was unfair to the South, who had shown so much progress in voting rights and yet was still being singled out. His position on this issue dominated most of his campaign. I. Unlike Williams, Dowdy is not as vocal in his stance on this issue. He even declined to get involved when Republican clerks put Williams name above Dowdy on the ballot (rather than alphabetical order, a violation of the Voting Rights Act). However, whenever in front of a black audience, he would strongly stress his support of the Voting Rights Act—even to the point of
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