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Kweisi Mfume on Principles & Values

Democratic Senate Challenger (MD); previously U.S. Representative


Democratic establishment rejects; Joe Trippi supports him

Echoes of the 2004 Democratic presidential primary can be heard in Maryland. Mfume, a vocal critic of the war in Iraq, was the first to toss his hat in the ring and looked pretty strong, but the Democratic establishment wouldn't get behind him, claiming he couldn't win in the general election. Now Joe Trippi, the guru behind Howard Dean's campaign, is volunteering his services for Mfume and it's dj vu all over again.

Mfume, with five terms in the House and nine years running the NAACP under his belt, is that rarest specimen among Democrats: someone who isn't afraid of the risk of standing up and talking about the progressive values he stands for.

Mfume's sick of mushy Democrats. "People want principled leadership that will stand up and fight for what they believe in," he says. "There has to be a counter-propaganda program in this state that says no, what the extreme far-right-wing is saying is not right. And no, we don't have to accept it."

Source: Joshua Holland, AlterNet, "Can Kweisi Make It" Feb 21, 2006

First to announce after Sarbanes' retirement

When Mfume threw his hat in the ring 3 days after Sarbanes announced that he wouldn't seek reelection, it looked like it would be a smooth sail for him. Maryland went big for Kerry, by a 13-point spread, and in 2004 Democrats had a 56 to 30 registration advantage. Blacks and Latinos account for around 40% of the state's Democrats.

But this is the Democratic Party, and in the ensuing months Mfume would run up against a timid party establishment, some ugly racial politics and the idea that he'd have a tough time against the likely GOP candidate, Michael Steele, a hard-right African-American backed heavily by DC's conservative establishment.

That can be a self-fulfilling prophecy; the money follows candidates who have the best chance of winning. If you're labeled "unelectable," it's hard to raise the cash you need to prove your critics wrong. For 6 weeks after his announcement, Mfume was the lone candidate [Then several other candidates entered the race, at the urging of the party establishment].

Source: Joshua Holland, AlterNet, "Can Kweisi Make It" Feb 21, 2006

A bachelor with six children (one adopted)

[Some people are] concerned with Mfume's "baggage" -- the flip side to his inspiring personal story. Mfume's a bachelor with six children (one adopted) by five mothers. There were rumors that he left the NAACP after some female staffers had accused him of favoritism towards employees with whom he had a romantic involvement, a charge he and several board members denied. Mfume points out that he served nine years at the NAACP on a five-year contract, and the board of directors was willing to extend his tenure. But he concedes that he did get involved with at least one staffer, which he now calls a "boneheaded" mistake.

According to some analysts, the right is drooling for a showdown against Mfume.

Mfume promises to see it through to the end, and his campaign strategy has the hallmarks of the kind of populism that Joe Trippi injected into Howard Dean's run. Mfume says, "this has to be a campaign about issues, not about personality. This has got to be a people's campaign."

Source: Joshua Holland, AlterNet, "Can Kweisi Make It" Feb 21, 2006

Turned around his life in his early 20s; elected at 31

Mfume's personal story sounds more like an afterschool special than real life. He was a high-school dropout and self-described "hustler" who turned his life around in his early 20s. He went back to school, worked his way through a master's degree at Johns Hopkins, and was elected to the Baltimore City Council at 31, where he served for seven years before being elected to Congress in 1986.
Source: Joshua Holland, AlterNet, "Can Kweisi Make It" Feb 21, 2006

Other candidates on Principles & Values: Kweisi Mfume on other issues:
MD Gubernatorial:
Martin O`Malley
Robert Ehrlich
MD Senatorial:
Barbara Mikulski
Benjamin Cardin
Daniel Vovak
Kevin Zeese
Michael Steele
Paul Sarbanes

2004 Presidential:
Pres.George W. Bush
Sen.John Kerry
Ralph Nader

2008 possibilities:

Sen.Hillary Clinton
Sen.John Edwards
Sen.Russ Feingold
Rudy Giuliani
V.P.Al Gore
Sen.Barack Obama
Sen.John McCain


2006 Senate retirements:
Jon Corzine(D,NJ)
Mark Dayton(DFL,MN)
Bill Frist(R,TN)
Jim Jeffords(I,VT)
Paul Sarbanes(D,MD)
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