Two prominent black Republican women have expressed outrage over recent comments by Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Kendrick Meek and two Florida Democratic Black Caucus members criticizing Jennifer Carroll.
Republican gubeAngie Boynton, vice chairwoman of the Florida Association of Black Republicans, and Dr. Frances Rice, chairwoman of the National Black Republican Association, issued a joint statement this week condemning Meek and his two Democratic colleagues, Dr. H. Bruce Miles, caucus president, and Ruth Lynch, first vice chairwoman of the caucus’ Broward County chapter, accusing them of making “disgraceful, false, and shameful” comments on Carroll’s selection as Scott’s running mate.
Rice and Boynton were responding to a Sept. 17 story in the South Florida Times.rnatorial candidate Rick Scott picked Carroll as his running mate.
Speaking at the caucus’ 28th annual conference on Sept. 11, Meek said Carroll “never would’ve been selected if it weren’t for me and Alex Sink being on the statewide ballot. Because of our leadership, others are trying to follow.”
Rice and Boynton said in their statement that “if Broward County is an example, leading Democrats are racing to jump off the ‘Meek Titanic’ into a Charlie Crist lifeboat. We urge the large numbers of Caribbean-American voters in your District to remember your disrespect for a native Caribbean woman on Election Day.”
Rice and Boynton also lambasted Miles for saying he questioned Carroll’s character for agreeing to be Scott’s candidate for lieutenant governor.
In a brief interview following a breakfast at the caucus conference, Miles said, “My issue with Jennifer Carroll even becoming a part of the Rick Scott ticket – a person whose company paid [a fine for] the largest Medicaid fraud in the history of Medicaid and Medicare – I would question her character. But we all know that the Republicans play tricks. This was a trick play, but it’s definitely going to backfire.”
Rice and Boynton said they were “highly offended” by Miles’ remarks.
Lynch, in a brief interview at the conference, said she applauded Carroll’s selection and called her a “wonderful, wonderful sister… Love her to death but when it comes to my issues, I’m a die-hard Democrat.”
Corey Alston, president of the caucus’ Broward County chapter, said he was “happy to see more African Americans – qualified candidates showing up on both sides of the aisle.”
Meanwhile, late last week, Scott named another black person to a high profile position in his campaign, picking Fort Lauderdale attorney Levi Williams Jr. as chairman of his Broward County campaign.
Williams, a native of Jamaica, grew up in Chicago. As an attorney, he has received several accolades and has a long career in law and public service.
A longtime Republican, he said Scott’s camp reached out to him.
“This is an historic appointment by Rick Scott,” said Clarence V. McKee, president of McKee Communications and a member of the African American Republican Leadership Council. “I believe this is the first time any statewide candidate, Democrat or Republican, has had a black person – let alone one of Caribbean ancestry – in such a post.”
Though black Republicans are elated over Williams’ appointment, Democrats remain undaunted and many still question Scott’s actions.
In a telephone interview this week, Williams was asked his thoughts on Democrats’ reaction to Scott’s obvious foray into the black community.
He called attention to the appointment of African Americans and other minorities by then Governor Jeb Bush and of prominent persons such as Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice by then President George W. Bush. For those for who say he and other blacks are simply being used by Republican candidates and those in office, it boils down to ignorance, Williams said.
“If that mentality was embraced by the majority of the people of color and if that mentality was embraced by all the immigrants who have come to this country, whether they be Jewish, Irish, Polish, Italian – if that mentality was the reality of every immigrant or minority that has came into this country – they would be nowhere today,” Williams said.
“That is exactly the mental slavery that we have to break within the black community.
“Partisan politics plays a role in every country on the face of this planet. But, for the community of color, it has not been our history that partisan politics has served us well.”