Tuesday, January 7, 2003

Blackwell: GOP should boost black staffing

Policies could be influenced

By Carl Weiser
Enquirer Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - The nation's dean of elected black Republicans had this message Monday for incoming Republican leaders in Congress: Hire more minorities.

Kenneth Blackwell, re-elected in November as Ohio's secretary of state, said that if the Republican Party wants to win African-American support, it needs to have blacks helping make policy.

"You have to start with the staff," Mr. Blackwell said in an interview. "That's how it works on the Hill. Bringing about some institutional change is what's on my mind."

The Senate begins its 2003 session today with a new majority leader, Sen. Bill Frist of Tennessee. GOP colleagues elected him after their former leader, Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott, suggested the country would have been better off had it elected a segregationist president in 1948.

Since then, the Republican Party has worked to mend its image among blacks. A series of meetings between top Republican officials and black conservatives is scheduled to begin Monday.

Spokeswoman Pamela Mantis of the Republican National Committee said the party itself had no control over Hill staffing, which individual House members and senators determine.

Congress has 535 elected members, but much of the real work is done by the 22,000 staffers.

Blacks constitute 8.5 percent of the Senate's staff but only 3.9 percent of the top positions involved in shaping legislation, according to the most recent study of minority staffing from the Congressional Management Foundation in 2001. The numbers aren't broken down by party.

A 2000 study by the same group found blacks made up 7.6 percent of House staff but only 4.5 percent of the high-level jobs. Census 2000 shows that blacks make up more than 12 percent of the nation's population. Ohio's percentage of blacks is about the same; Cincinnati is 43 percent black.

In phone calls with White House strategist Karl Rove, Mr. Blackwell and other prominent black conservatives have said they know plenty of highly experienced and bright minorities available.

"It's not about setting any quotas," he said. "It's the smart thing to do politically."

Mr. Blackwell, a former Cincinnati mayor, was first elected statewide in 1994. He is planning to run for governor in 2006.

E-mail cweiser@gns.gannett.com

Girl, 17, killed while holding child
Lottery sales up, but profit misses goal
Boyles gets 13 years in ex-girlfriend's death
Buckeyes gear flies out of stores
Troops ship out by the thousands

PULFER: Helping kids early and often
RADEL: Second job was what he wanted

Mt. Healthy stops school bus service
Mom, daughter killed in crash
School board elects Warner president
New police oversight agency meets
Another local boy joins Vienna choir
Donation to pay for flags on firetrucks
Firefighters, police aid McDonald House

3 suing to stay can - for now
Class-action suit sought on Oxycontin
Obituary: Ruth Shaffer, 92, was organist
Obituary: Alfred Wilhelm, Diamond executive
Good News: Travel show partnering in coat drive

Perjury an issue in Butler courts
Deadly road gets rumble strips
Boil-water warning wasn't heard
Policeman hurt while questioning motorist
Fairfield laboratories focus on heart disease

Attempted murder added to charges
Rapist found slain in cell

Ohio Moments: Midwest got a taste of Antarctica's weather
Blackwell: GOP should boost black staffing
Village ponders ads on cruisers

Democratic strategy session moved
Another local auto business burgled
Patton outlines tax-hike targets
Voters get voice at town meeting
$10M grant to help Kentucky's jobless
Jackson to run for Ky. governor
Around the Commonwealth