Thursday, February 21, 2008

Race Matters Less in Politics of South

An interesting article about the changing racial dynamics in the South -- yet more evidence that Obama might be able to win some traditionally red states:

Inevitably, there are questions about what this might mean for Senator Barack Obama’s candidacy in the Deep South, and the quick answer, perhaps, is not that much, at least in Cullman County at this moment. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton beat Mr. Obama here, by a margin of four to one, in the Democratic primary this month, as many here readily point out.

Yet there are parallels. The very quality that voters here highlight, in so many words, as one of Mr. Fields’s more attractive attributes — that they are at ease with him — is one of Mr. Obama’s most important selling points. The implications are not lost on State Senator Zeb Little, the majority leader in the Alabama Senate and a Democratic power broker in Cullman: black politicians can win in unlikely districts, transcending history and partisan politics, if voters can see them as one of their own.

“James is comfortable around white people, and white people are comfortable around James, and you see the same thing with Obama,” Mr. Little said.

Race Matters Less in Politics of South
Published: February 21, 2008

CULLMAN, Ala. — The racial breakthroughs have come gingerly in Alabama over the years: a black mayor there, an old Klansman put on trial here, a civil rights memorial there.

And a few weeks ago, voters in a county that is more than 96 percent white chose a genial black man, James Fields, to represent them in the State House of Representatives. It is a historic first, but the moment is full of awkwardness.


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