Fred Price Jr. decided to become a registered Republican when Democratic Congressman Anthony Brown served as Maryland’s lieutenant governor in 2013 when he led the botched health care website rollout.
“If Brown couldn’t handle the Affordable Care Act, then I didn’t think he could handle the state of Maryland,” Price, of Cheverly, said.
The 80-year-old retired federal worker and Marine Corps veteran calls himself a “colored man” and an unashamed member of the state’s Black Republican Council.
“I am the child of what President [Harry S.] Truman said about integrating the military for colored troops. You will get all the advantages through that and I did,” Price said. “I’m a Black Republican because the other party hasn’t done much I agree with, but I’m still willing to help other Blacks in Prince George’s County.”
Black Republicans are scarce in the majority-Black Prince George’s County in which Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly 10-to-1. In addition, Prince George’s has the highest number of registered Democrats in Maryland.
Although Republican Gov. Larry Hogan won a second four-year term as the state’s top leader, the ratio of Democrats to Republicans in the state stretches almost 2-to-1.
To help showcase another political perspective, the Maryland Black Republican Council plans to host a town hall next month.
With about 45 registered members, the council wants to present a simple message as the state battles the ongoing coronavirus pandemic: support other viewpoints in a civil manner, maintain conservative values and help residents and business owners with no new tax increases.
Nicole Bennett, president of the council who resides in Charles County, said, the state shows more partisan work versus what goes down the road in Washington, D.C.
The council supports House Bill 1 that seeks to provide $577 million in a 10-year period for the state’s four historically Black colleges and universities. The legislation proposes to settle a lawsuit about 15 years old that stems from predominately white school’s duplicating programs at the state’s HBCUs of Bowie State, Coppin State, Morgan State and University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES).
“As someone who went to Grambling [State University], I absolutely support HBCUs,” said Bennett, who is also serves as a vice chair of the state’s Republican Party. “There has to be a level of parity in education. Some kids learn better in a smaller environment with people who look like me, who sound like me and hold my same cultural beliefs.”
As for the future of the GOP, she said the “future looks bright.”
On a national level during the November general election, Democrats lost 13 seats in the House of Representatives that reduced their margin from 36 to 10.
Several of those seats belong to women and two Black Republicans – reps. Burgess Owens of Utah and Byron Donalds of Florida.
In Maryland, Brenda Thiam of Washington County became the state’s first Black Republican woman sworn in as a legislator. Thiam works as a behavioral health technician for Achieving True Self in Hagerstown.
Hogan appointed Thiam (pronounced “cham) to replace Paul Corderman, who Hogan appointed to fill a vacant Senate seat to represent Washington County.
“We find ourselves in the position we’ve gained a lot of minority voters from the Trump administration. We’ve had these Blacks for Trump. Minorities for Trump. Latinos for Trump. Asians for Trump,” said Bennett, who’s been a GOP member for at least 12 years. “He had a significant outreach program to engage with minority communities. That was one of the genius things about his campaign. I think we’re sitting pretty right now.”
However, the Republican Party lost control of the White House with Democratic President Joe Biden sworn into office last week. He’s signed dozens of executive orders with several to reverse policies implemented by Donald Trump.
After being sworn in several hours later, Vice President Kamala Harris swore in three new Democrats to the Senate that gives Harris constitutional power to cast tie-breaking votes when there’s a 50-50 tie.
Rep. Andy Harris, Maryland’s only GOP representative on Capitol Hill and a Trump supporter, is under investigation by Capitol Police for carrying a concealed gun that set off a metal detector near the House chamber. The device became installed after the Jan. 6 riots by Trump supporters.
“Andy Harris should be held to the same standard as any other congressman,” Bennett said. “There is a highly level of scrutiny on Trump supporters that sets a horrible, dangerous precedent that may come back and bite people in the tail really soon.”
Yvette Lewis, chair of the Maryland Democratic Party, called Harris “an embarrassment to our state.”
The party will continue its work statewide in preparation for the 2022 midterm elections such as work to unseating Harris’ first congressional district and electing a Democrat for governor.
“We are going to organize in every part of the state because we recognize voters need to know that the Democratic Party represents the entire state and not a portion of the state,” Lewis said. “We’re going to expand our majority in the General Assembly, so we have a full plate.”