City Councilman Chris Johnson sparks interesting debate

So last night, among the many election results coming from Kentucky, Mississippi, Virginia and elsewhere, was an historic one where Kentucky elected its first African American Attorney General. Wilmington City Councilman and former Democratic candidate for Attorney General in our own state, Chris Johnson, made note of that history with this Facebook post.

“Congratulations to Kentucky for making history! This monumental feat reminds us that even so called “Red” states often get it right in areas where “Blue” states do not.”

First, I sense a little bit of bitterness there on his own personal part. Had Johnson won the Democratic nomination here for Attorney General in 2018, it is highly likely that he would have been elected Delaware’s first African American Attorney General. There was a little knock or shade thrown on Delaware with that “blue” state reference. At least, that is my interpretation.

Second, however, is the more important point. The first African American Attorney General of Kentucky, David Cameron, is a Mitch McConnell acolyte and a Republican.

So the question is, should we be happy that Kentucky has broken the color barrier with a candidate who will be hostile, ironically, to minorities and civil rights given his ideology, political history and party membership?

Delaware Democratic Party Executive Director Jesse Chadderdon thinks the answer is no. Here is his comment: “What am I missing here? Why are we supposed to be excited about the election of Mitch McConnell’s Republican protege, a guy who demonized immigrants as a central plank of his campaign?” Chadderdon and others posted links to racist campaign ads and positions that Cameron had taken in the campaign, which are quite the opposite of the progressive and criminal justice reform principles that Johnson ran on himself in 2018 and continues to advance in his political career. You can read Johnson’s and Chadderdon’s back and forth at the Facebook link above, and I hope Chris doesn’t delete it, because this is the rare instance where both sides of the argument are right and wrong.

Councilman Johnson posted another Facebook post in response to the reaction of the first:

“To clarify to all, as a life-long Democrat I have always stood by the values and tradition of our Party. My acknowledgement of a historic accomplish[ment] by a fellow attorney of color is an acknowledgment of the tremendous pain and racism of our nation’s history and just how far we have come. I do not support his positions.

However it sparked a much larger conversation about how the Democratic Party MUST clean up its act and start to invest in younger and more diverse candidates.

Living in a state in which after hundreds of years there have only been TWO ever statewide elected officials of color, underscores the necessity of wholesale investment and changes on this front.

Black and Latino Americans don’t need the most “woke” candidate but instead need the leader that will consistency work everyday to add food to the table and jobs to disinvested areas.

If we get this formula right we CAN win back the White House.”

This should have been his first post on the subject. You can celebrate the breaking of a racial barrier without celebrating the horrendous man doing the breaking of the barrier. It is a tightrope, to be sure, but it can be done. Johnson’s first post did not do that balancing, hence the reaction. I don’t get the dissing of “woke” candidates, though. Chris Johnson, as a champion of criminal justice reform in 2018, was a “woke” candidate.

Delaware politics from a liberal, progressive and Democratic perspective. Keep Delaware Blue.

34 comments on “City Councilman Chris Johnson sparks interesting debate

  1. Considering someone by their color is, by definition, racist. It doesn’t make it any better when it benefits them.

    • No, actually, that’s not the definition of racist. Look it up, moron.

      No, wait. Being an anonymous moron, you probably don’t know how.

      “prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.”

      Considering people by their color lacks the integral factor of believing your race is superior. Try again, moron.

    • Good lord, that’s a bad take. Also, what Alby said.

  2. cassandram

    Even Chris’ second take on this fails to credit the real effect young people, POC , women and combos of all of them have had on this increasing Blue Wave across the country. There is NO WAY the multi-cycle Blue Wave in VA (that flipped BOTH HOUSES) would have gotten done otherwise. Look at the new members of the DELCO council, a young, African American mayor in Talledega, a new Latina mayor in Tucson, the first Muslim woman in the VA lege, a young man many of us know from being the President of UD College Dems (Bill Humphrey) who won a council seat in Newton and all of the faces who stepped up and fought the good fight. It was a good night reflecting the work of committed candidates, amazing organizing and Democratic support.

    Can we do more to make our governments reflect the populations they govern? You bet. We have not done well enough to pat ourselves on the back and be comfortable. And nor does any progress happen overnight. The GOP elected a young black man who campaigned demonizing black and brown people. Not sure how much of an accomplishment this is since the GOP specifically targets promising black people ONLY to have a plausible shield (to white people at least) to pretend they aren’t racist. They also get themselves candidates who will undermine the civil rights of black and brown people.

    You can’t look at the recent addition of Lockman, Brown, Walker to the GA as anything less than genuine progress here in DE. More is coming too. But I am always intrigued by accusations that the Party isn’t doing enough that aren’t accompanied by concrete proposals for what needs to be done. In my own experience, the thing people want from the Party is money and I note the irony of the same folks who want money out of the system who will insist that the Party provide them with it. Even though the Ds don’t have the same kind of access to funds that the Rs do.

    I digress. We have plenty of our own successes — let’s be in the business of celebrating those, figuring out what worked and figuring out how to scale those successes up.

  3. First, I found this conversation to be educational and an important one for folks within our Party to have, and I appreciate Chris allowing for the debate on his page. There will some who say these types of intra-party discussions don’t belong on Facebook, but I feel like it’s important to meet each other where we are, when we can, and to treat those with different viewpoints and experiences with respect.

    I don’t know how many folks will actually click through to read the thread, but to be clear, my answer wasn’t plainly “no” to the question posited. In my comments, I very explicitly acknowledge my limitations a white man to experience the election of a candidate of color in the same way that Chris might. Happy to acknowledge that here as well.

    Finally, I’d like to point out that our Attorney General is doing a remarkable job. She is keeping her promise to move us forward and is delivering on many critical reforms. She is a million times the attorney general Daniel Cameron will ever be. I also think we should acknowledge that, in addition to Chris, there was another Democratic candidate of color in the primary, LaKresha Moultrie, who finished second. Both have a bright future in our Party and in our state.

  4. Anonymous II

    Democrats don’t practice what they preach. Look at the senior staff of all these elected Democrats. They want diversity but not for themselves.

    • Man, are you guys stupid. The avatar makes it clear that you’re the same person as the first anonymous above.

  5. Anonymous II

    It’s the default avatar, Einstein. The same as the guy above me.

    Do you dispute my point?

    • No, actually, it’s not. It only generates a new quilt square for new IP addresses. The fact that you changed yours to make the comment shows what a liar you are.

    • If you’ll notice, mine is always the same, even though it’s computer generated.

      As I say, you people are just plain stupid.

      As for your argument, I think very poorly of both parties, so I don’t give a crap. I don’t care what color or gender the lackeys are. The point is that they’re lackeys.

  6. Anonymous II

    It’s the default avatar, Einstein. The same as the guy above.

    Do you dispute my point? Talk substance instead of names. Would it make you feel better if I posted as Al?

    • cassandram

      You are in no position to call for *substance* until you offer some. You haven’t made any points worthy of paying any attention to so far.

  7. Anonymous II

    It’s no secret elected Dems don’t hire many minorities for senior positions. Do you disagree?

    • There’s always room for progress. However, I can say that they hire way more diverse teams than the Republicans

  8. Anonymous II

    That isn’t saying much. Republicans are an all white party and don’t claim to advocate diversity. Dems will support affirmative action for others but not practice it.

    Chris Johnson hit a nerve because he is right.

  9. Your argument amounts to, “Republicans get a pass because they’re not even trying, but I’m going to bash Democrats because they try but don’t do very well.”

    In short, you’re a troll. A stupid one who tried to hide the fact that he’s posting using multiple IP addresses, which means you’re not sincere in your criticism.

    So what would make me feel better is if you’d fuck off.

  10. Anonymous II

    No, I am a Democrat disappointed in the Democratic Party. Multiple IP addresses? It’s called traveling you imbecile.

    You are a bitter fired former talk show host who spends all day being an asshole on the internet. Find something better to do with your time.

    • All day? More like five seconds.

      If you’re disappointed as a Democrat, why are you a Democrat? I’m in it for the primaries myself, because those are often the more important elections in Delaware.

      What difference does it make what color ass-kissers are? Serious question.

  11. Anonymous II

    Republicans are a racist party. Focusing on their dismal record is a deflection. This isn’t Red Delaware. Of course you are incapable of actual debate since the facts aren’t in dispute.

    Sorry for my IP changing again. I prefer to use WiFi at restaurants.

    • All righty, then. At least we agree on that.

      I’m not interested in this debate because I don’t care what color the Democratic Party’s lackeys are. I’m interested in getting these corporatists out of power, not getting the proper skin tone variety among their staff.

      Please forgive me for thinking you were a right-wing troll. They get a lot of them around here. As for being an asshole, right back atcha.

  12. Anonymous II

    It shows their hypocrisy. Privately they choose to have whites around them and to support white candidates. All statewide electeds are white. So are the leaders of the legislature. Is this Delaware or South Dakota?

    • Yes, I agree with you about that. All I could add is that it is not the only way in which Delaware Democrats, and Democrats in general, are hypocrites, but I can see where this instance is particularly galling to anyone who’s a minority, particularly those in public service. It’s galling to me, too. They’re all white guys and I still don’t feel represented.

      I really am sorry about mistaking you for a troll, but Donald Trump made this point at one of his recent hatefests. Of course he was making it disingenuously — it’s not like he gives a flying fuck about anyone, let alone the black community — so you maybe see why my spider sense tingled.

    • cassandram

      Not hypocrisy — it is mainly about who shows up and applies. In DE these leg aide jobs are mainly helped by talented campaign staff. Or people coming out of the UD Political school. I have personally worked at recruiting more POC (women esp) for openings there with no success. Statewide electeds are the people who got the most votes. LBR is a woman of color. There will be more, but winning statewide is still about appealing to a broad swath of voters and getting engaged with parts of DE that don’t often cross paths meaningfully with POC. Like LBR, figure out how to build a winning coalition and you have a shot.

      City Council staff is not mostly white.

  13. Anonymous II

    These positions are not posted so nothing to apply for. They are filled through social circles. White social circles. No different than what Dems attack others for.

    Forgot about LBR but she is the exception that proves the rule. LBR won because the establishment supported a minority for once. What pisses people off about a guy like Chris being ignored is seeing the same people go all out for a empty suit like Park City.

    Alby, no problem. Sorry for the way I responded to you.

    • cassandram

      These are State positions. They are posted. But they are filled via political circles in the main. And its not like there aren’t plenty of AA folks trying to recruit people for these jobs when they are open. You can’t force people into these positions if this isn’t their track.

  14. Anonymous II

    Appointed positions, which is what these political jobs are, aren’t posted. They are filled by word of mouth among white social circles.

    • cassandram

      Not appointed. Definitely posted. Filled via networks of people extremely interested in the granularity of politics and policy. One of the reasons I work at recruiting people when I know these positions are posted is because of the long-term benefits to being this close to the sausage-making.

  15. Anonymous II

    This is not hidden. What is hidden is the racial subtext of relying on word of mouth. It’s a cycle that perpuates itself. It’s exactly what affirmative action is designed to fight against.

    Compare Delaware to other blue states. Three of four statewide electeds in New Jersey are minorities. That’s unimaginable in Delaware.

    • cassandram

      Not unimaginable. Just need to field candidates who will do the work (and be funded well enough) to build the kids of statewide coalitions to win. It’s not like anyone handed Cory Booker or Bob Menendez anything.

  16. Anonymous II

    Menendez originally was appointed to his Senate seat and ran as an incumbent. They didn’t appoint Ted Kaufman. Sheila Oliver was picked as a running mate by Murphy. Even Republican Hogan in Maryland has a black lieutenant governor. These things are springboards to higher office. Ask John Carney.

    Chris Johnson needs to work harder but Park City gets handed a seat after badly losing a previous race. This is the racial double standard we decry in other settings.

    • cassandram

      The Auditor got the most number of votes in the Primary and had token GOP opposition. That’s not handing anyone anything.

      Contrast to Sheila Oliver who has been winning elections since the early 2000’s in NJ and was the Assembly Speaker. She was picked because she was a known vote-getter. Menendez has been winning local NJ elections since I was in high school. Rutherford was a longtime appointed exec by GOP governors in MD. No electoral experience at all. He rode the coattails of a GOP governor who badly needed to add “diversity” to his ticket.

      Notice the difference? Democrats have a field of people in elected office ready to step up. The GOP does not and so they have to “give” these positions to the folk they think they need for cover. That’s your racial double standard.

      • I object to the notion that the state auditor “earned” her position. She got the most votes in the primary because already-elected Democrats supported her to the exclusion of all other candidates. If they hadn’t been behind her she either wouldn’t have won or would have lost as badly as she did in her run for Lt. Gov.

        I tend not to see this through a racial lens so much as through the lens of conservative Democrats choosing other conservative Democrats to keep their gravy train on track. If you’re a conservative Democrat, you’re probably going to find your supporters and candidates among the white part of the party.

        • cassandram

          I think I said it wasn’t handed to her. She did have to get the votes and she did get support from electeds no one else got and am not sure anyone else asked for. Jack Markell will tell you you can get the most number of votes without having establishment support. It’s a question of aggressively building your coalitions, out strategizing and out working the other guy.

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