Washington (Politico)– The Congressional Black Caucus says it will gladly accept the two newly elected black Republicans into its group, opening the door to partisan diversity in a caucus that has been historically Democratic.
“Membership in the Congressional Black Caucus has never been restricted to Democrats,” CBC chairwoman Barbara Lee said in a statement to POLITICO. “Should either of the two African American Republicans recently elected to the House of Representatives request membership in the Congressional Black Caucus, they will be welcomed.”
Lee’s statement noted that, “during the 40-year history of the Congressional Black Caucus, there have been three African American Republican members of the House of Representatives. Two congressmen, Melvin Evans of the Virgin Islands and Gary Franks of Connecticut, decided to join the Congressional Black Caucus, however, Congressman J.C. Watts of Oklahoma did not.”
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Last week, POLITICO reported that freshman-elect Allen West, who defeated Ron Klein in Florida’s 22nd district, was interested in joining the caucus. “That has been a monolithic voice in the body politic for far too long. There is a growing conservative black voice in this country,” West said.
The only other black Republican elected this cycle, Tim Scott of South Carolina’s first district, is less interested in joining. “I haven’t really decided. I’m probably leaning against it at this point,” said Scott, who served in the South Carolina Legislative black caucus for his first year before dropping out because he felt the ideological differences were too great.