African-American Democrats voting in the recent CT-Sen race responded positively to Ned Lamont’s anti-war messaging. He came into the home stretch of the campaign boasting a strong lead with white voters and, seeking to shore up his “street cred” with black Connecticut residents, received campaign support from stalwarts such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Maxine Waters.

The question: did the support of these particular black leaders result in a late narrowing of the substantial lead Lamont attained as the race drew to a close? Did some whites turn away from Lamont as those faces became linked strongly to his campaign and message?

I would hazard a guess that the most controversial of those figures and the one that most likely repulsed CT whites would be Al Sharpton. From his presidential campaign finance troubles to the LoanMax predatory/discriminatory lending controversy to the Tawana Brawley scandal, Sharpton is a divisive figure. The impact is similar to that of Marion Barry in Washington DC. Al Sharpton is very popular among African-Americans in New York and the Northest generally because he is consistent in banging on the halls of power and demanding accountability. In a time characterized by relatively passive black leadership, this is appreciate. Yet whites tend to despise and distrust him. The same dynamic exists further south whereby a significant percentage of African-Americans continue to support Marion Barry, the former crack smoking, former mayor because he gave the appearance of a strong leader willing to talk back to the Establishment.

It’s a double-edged sword, courting the African-American vote. Frequently the black vote has become a swing vote, finally lending blacks increased political power. In order to create a broader support base, Lamont may wish to re-consider how, when and where Al Sharpton campaigns for him.

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