Bruce Murphy
Back in the News

Will Clarke Hurt GOP With Black Voters?

His speech adds to anti-black tone at Republican convention, but heightens sheriff’s fame.

By - Jul 21st, 2016 01:13 pm
Sheriff David Clarke speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Sheriff David Clarke speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Republicans are alienating black voters at their convention, a New York Times story reported, and one of the worst example of that was a speech by Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, some Republicans suggested.

In Clarke’s speech, he didn’t just declare that “blue lives matter,” but argued that “the Black Lives Matter movement was contributing to ‘a collapse of social order,’” the story noted. “He also praised the acquittal of one of the Baltimore police officers charged in the death of Freddie Gray.”

Clarke was among several speakers, including former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Darryl Glenn, a commissioner of El Paso County, Colo., who is African-American, whose speeches “seemed focused more on castigating black protesters, scolding other blacks for their behavior… than on trying to help Republicans make inroads with undecided or skeptical black voters,” the story noted.

Some Republicans told the Times “they were uncomfortable that convention planners had tapped black speakers to chastise black protesters in front of a mostly white crowd, which seemed to lap it up.”

The GOP, of course, hasn’t done well with black voters going back decades, but the candidacy of Donald Trump, who has gotten significant support from white supremacy groups, could lower the black GOP vote even further. Recent NBC News/Wall Street Journal polls in Ohio and Pennsylvania showed Trump had no support — zero percent — of black respondents.

“This convention has fewer black delegates and speakers than any in two decades, according to several African-American Republicans who are regulars at party gatherings,” the story noted. There were also “images of Jim Crow-esque ‘white elevators’ signs” hanging at the convention over the weekend that “began circulating online, sparking outrage and criticism,” the New York Daily News reported. “Organizers scrambled to replace the signs before throngs of right-wing crowds arrived to pick their party’s presidential nominee.”

“For many black Republicans, the party’s convention has veered unexpectedly and unhappily toward lecturing and moralizing on issues of race, an off-putting posture at a time when Mr. Trump is staggeringly unpopular with minority voters,” the Times reported.

Telly Lovelace, national director for African-American initiatives and urban media for the Republican National Committee, told the Times he felt uncomfortable during some speeches, including Clarke’s: “I don’t think Sheriff Clarke fully understands what those who live in urban communities, and particularly black men, have to deal with and have to go through, dealing with the police and being racially profiled,” he said. “And Black Lives Matter is not this quote-unquote anarchist movement, as he described it in his speech.”

Clarke has long been a critic of Black Lives Matter, calling the group “garbage” and “black slime,” among other epithets, as Mother Jones reported.

It would be ironic if Clarke’s speech does cause problems for the GOP, given that he has done everything he can to hurt the Democratic Party, even as he has run for office as a Democrat. But whatever the impact on the GOP, Clarke’s speech has heightened the media profile of a man who “has become a conservative icon for his passionate defense of police amidst allegations of abuse of minorities across America,” as the Daily Mail put it.

“Arguably the biggest hit at the Republican National Convention so far has been Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who spoke the first night,” Cleveland radio station WKOW concluded.

Clarke got many requests for interviews from the media, a GOP source told me. CNN had Clarke on as a guest, where he had a heated exchange with interviewer Don Lemon.

“Clarke blamed the Black Lives Matter movement for inspiring violent crimes against law enforcement officers, calling the group ‘purveyors of hate,’” CNN reported. “Lemon pressed Clarke for specifics, but the sheriff didn’t offer any.

Clarke may have outdone himself when it comes to alliteration, offering this salvo to CNN on Black Lives Matter: “They teach vile and vitriol in the name of virtue.”

35 thoughts on “Back in the News: Will Clarke Hurt GOP With Black Voters?”

  1. Vincent Hanna says:

    In the grand scheme of things, Clarke fits right in with the overall tone of the convention, which of course stems from the GOP nominee. There’s been a white supremacy feel to the entire thing ( And as the Washington Post reported, less than 1% of the RNC delegates are black, the lowest figure in at least a century.

  2. Sam says:

    There is no better illustration then Sheriff Clarke for why Democrats need to vote in off year election primaries.

  3. Huck L. Berry says:


    Your ‘white supremacy’ claims are contextually inaccurate. The GOP is not excluding African-Americans (or other P.O.C.) from participating. In fact, when blacks do join with Republicans, they are accused of being coon’, step n’ fetch oreos, as well as other disgusting racial terms. The left gives a free pass to tear down and destroy conservative black people that refuse to join the authoritarian liberal hive. Take something like Paul Ryan’s intern photo for instance — nothing but snarky remarks from lefties about the lack of diversity. How is it supposed to be diverse? When P.O.C. join Republican groups, they are called sell outs, and are accused of voting against their ‘own people’. If the left stopped trying to destroy African-Americans that wanted to vote with the right, you would see quite clearly that your white supremacy maginations are little more than a projection of your racist subconscious. But go ahead, and keep shaming and bullying minorities until they all vote the same.

  4. Vincent Hanna says:

    That is an insanely weak and ridiculous defense. “It’s perfectly OK that all those interns are white because liberals are mean to black Republicans.” That’s not going to help the GOP get more diverse is it.

    Also, you have misinterpreted my post. I said nothing about the GOP as a party. I was talking about the RNC, which has an undeniably white supremacist feel to it, which many have written about this week. It makes the party look bad because of who their nominee is and who has been speaking at the party’s convention, a mere four years after the infamous autopsy report calling for better minority outreach and relations.

    Clearly it makes you feel better to just blame liberals and act like it’s their fault for the GOP being so white, but reality tells a far different story. Much of the problem is self-inflicted.

  5. Milwaukee Native says:

    I missed Clarke’s speech (except for clips). So exactly how did Clarke–and convention organizers–explain so-called Democrat Clarke as one of the convention’s most prominent speakers. Why don’t state and local Dems insist that Clarke have even the pretense of loyalty to one party?

    The big news today is what a “traitor” Cruz is (and days ago the same for Kasich and Jeb Bush) for not being loyal enough to the party nominee. I’m all for bipartisanship but not for Clarke’s opportunistic claims to be of one party to get votes in a Democratic stronghold and then trashing that party and its values as well as the many people of color within it.

    But if Clarke’s bashing of black people finally gets him to lose votes for Trump, the rest of the GOP, and ultimately himself, when then keep shoveling that bile, Cowboy Clarke.

  6. dudemeister says:

    Hm, “contextually inaccurate” . . . must be the latest talk radio buzzterm. It’s interesting to see someone who doesn’t know what a (rather intellectual) concept is try and use it in Internet Wars and water cooler discussions. You see this frequently with “logical fallacy;” there are actually specific formal fallacies that have to do with the structure of an argument, though many seem to believe that anything with a debatable premise is such a faulty reasoning.

    As far as Huck’s claims, I think there is a little generalization of “the left.” I would challenge Huck to come up with some extant, citable instances of those on “the left” accusing Republican-supporting minorities of being race traitors.

    Regardless, the supposed accusations have clearly not stopped minorities from joining the Republican Party in the past, so why now are there ever-dwindling supporters from minority communities? Certainly, liberals are not pointing guns at heads and demanding people leave the opposing party. Would this have been an effective strategy, Republican ranks would be swollen.

  7. Vincent Hanna says:

    Exactly dudemeister. 0.7 percent of more than 2,400 delegates are black. That is telling. It was 7 percent in 2004. Why the drop Huck? Sorry but liberals are not to blame.

  8. AG says:

    Ha! Am I seeing a bunch of white guys trying to say that black conservatives aren’t called uncle Tom’s and other nasty things by other blacks? This is rich… clearly you all know everything about the black community.

  9. Huck L. Berry says:

    Nice try, but I never implied “it’s perfectly OK that all those interns are white.” On the contrary, I said there would be more black Republicans if liberals stopped attacking them. Don’t even pretend like this isn’t true; black Republicans are vilified by the left. It’s a shame so many Republicans are white, but that’s not going to change as long as black people continue to be oppressed by regressive liberal racism.

    RNC percentages aside, you said the white supremacist tone of the convention stems from the GOP nominee. Of course that’s an indictment against the GOP — he represents the party.

    Also, it doesn’t make me feel better to blame liberals. What would make me feel better is if liberals stopped trying to destroy black people that support conservative causes. Keep on with the virtue signaling though, it’s bound to pay off at some point.

  10. Huck L. Berry says:


    What does talk radio have to do with anything? It’s just another snide attempt to try and bully somebody with different beliefs than you (by implying I listen to blowhards like Limbaugh). I don’t even own a radio, homie.

    You can challange me to provide studies all you want, but there’s nothing to prevent you from going on Google and searching for them yourself. You won’t believe any study I provide anyways, unless it supports your biased world view. You’re not worth anymore of my time. Deep down though, you know what I am saying is true, which is all the vindication I need.

    Also, ‘context’ is not a “rather intellectual” concept, it’s actually quite basic — unless you try to overcomplicate it à la Derrida.

  11. Vincent Hanna says:

    So you’re saying black people are afraid to embrace conservatism because liberals will be mean to them, and that’s why all the interns are white? Do you have any proof of this?

    It’s very convenient to place all the blame on liberals. It completely scapegoats the GOP and means that they are not in any way responsible for 0.7% of the convention delegates being black.

  12. Vincent Hanna says:

    AG I am not implying I know everything about the black community. I don’t. I am not trying to speak for anyone but myself. Just sharing my impression of this year’s GOP convention.

  13. wisconsin conservative Digest says:

    He has overwhelming support in the Black and inner city community, that do not like BLM and the thugs, of all colors, doing drugs and hookers down there.

    Only people that do not like him, he got 80% in last election, are the lefties and the white, male, liberal, racists that he exposes. Like most people on this site.

  14. M says:

    WCD, Clarke did not get 80% of vote in last election. He won by a mere 4 percentage points.

    Also, even black “conservatives” may not find the GOP all that welcoming. Same for conservative Latinos. Why vote for someone who plays on fears of people who are not white or practice another religion?

  15. wisconsin conservative Digest says:

    Jeez the people on this site are dumb, that is the primary, Dummy.

  16. wisconsin conservative Digest says:

    M: the only people that want to help the kids, in Milwaukee ,are Conservatives. The white, male, liberal racists that run Milwaukee cannot even teach kids tor had or stop crime.

  17. Jason says:

    When a group of thugs come into ran sack a Milwaukee gas station and the store owner pulls out a gun to protect himself. It is very simple where people black or white stand. Those who hate Clarke accept that the thugs can do what they want and the store owner should have his gun taken away. They will recommend a boycott and when the business is gone wonder why there are so few gas stations in the city(insert grocery stores, banks etc.) Supporters of Clarke believe that store owner has a right to exist and to protect his business.

  18. Ryan N says:

    WCD is pretty dumb, the only reason he won by that much is due to HUGE Republican crossover in the primary. The next time a competitive primary happens at the same time he’s done.

  19. Bruce Thompson says:

    Somewhere along the line, Clarke shifted his target audience–from African Americans trying to improve their community to white racists needing some vindication they were not racist since a black man was saying the same thing they were. An opportunity lost.

  20. Vincent Hanna says:

    That just isn’t true Jason. I don’t like Clarke at all but I don’t think the store owner should have his gun taken away if he was legitimately defending himself. If he was recklessly shooting at people, that’s a different story. I only read a brief news item on that incident. Once again you massively oversimplify and generalize.

  21. Vincent Hanna says:

    Trump’s America is the scariest place I’ve ever heard of. Illegal immigrants roaming the streets menacing Americans. It’s like The Purge, but there’s no 12-hour time restriction and it’s just brown people terrorizing white people. And I think we know who he’s talking to when he says that he’ll be the voice of the forgotten people. All week we were told to be afraid of Muslims, Black Lives Matter, and illegal immigrants. But yes there’s no white supremacy at all at the GOP convention.

  22. Sam says:

    Sheriff Clarke won the 2014 general election overwhelmingly, as Democrats in Milwaukee generally do. He had a very competitive Democratic primary against Chris Moews, winning by a mere 4,000+ votes (which is pretty similar to the spread from 2010).

    @ WCD It’s difficult to say that Sheriff Clarke has a wide appeal among black voters, there isn’t any data. Do you have evidence?

    It’s safe to say however, from his many appearances on FoxNews and the recent Republican convention, that he has wide appeal among conservatives.

  23. Steve says:

    Sadly, I’ve got to throw the Af Am community under the bus. Clarke was reelected because he received more Af Am votes from black wards than Moews. Moews – 29,181 Clarke – 29,805. Clarke won the majority of the Af Am wards and Moews actually did better in white areas of the city.

    Clarke extended his lead by winning the white suburbs. Moews – 25,358 Clarke – 29,404.

    The final tally had Clarke winning by 4,670 votes out of over 113,000.

    If the very democratic city of Milwaukee had treated Clarke like the GOPPER he is, he’d of lost by 8,000 votes (GOP gets about 40% of the vote in MKE).

  24. Steve says:

    Here are the numbers…

    CITY OF MILWAUKEE: Moews – 29,181 Clarke – 29,805
    MILWAUKEE CO. SUBURBS: Moews – 25,358 Clarke – 29,404
    TOTAL: Moews – 54,539, Clarke – 59,209

  25. wisconsin conservative Digest says:

    Jeez people on the site are dumb. A max effort by the left in the primary fails, but when everyone votes in the finals, 80% tell us they like Clarke and what he says.
    We all know the Left controls a small number of people, the same ones that cause the crime in Milwaukee, that cannot teach kids: A National disaster at MPS via Duncan. They cannot fix the roads and a myriad of other failures.

  26. Vincent Hanna says:

    WCD you must have loved all the doom and gloom this week at the RNC. I’m sure you think the U.S. is just as dangerous and terrifying as Trump and other speakers made it out to be.

  27. wisconsin conservative Digest says:

    Did not watch much, watching reruns of Happy Days when Ike was in control.
    If I want to get depressed I just look at the record of the white, male, racist, liberals that run Milwaukee: Crime way up, reading way down, abandoned houses, heroin, human trafficking, prostitution,bad roads and on and on. Left cannot run anchoring. Tosa, West Allis do not have these problems and West Allis, very low income area.

  28. Milwaukee Native says:

    WCD, in the general election, Clarke faced Angela Walker, who called herself a “free-range socialist.” And Clarke still got only 80% of the vote.

    While Milwaukee once elected Socialist mayors (last one in 1956), no free-range socialists have been elected recently. Everyone knew the real contest was in the Democratic primary. Whoever won that was sure to win the general.

  29. wisconsin conservative Digest says:

    Funny “Only 80%”?? who else got 80%. When was the last time anyone else got 80% in the finals?

  30. Ryan N says:

    Depends on the year but in 08 Gwen Moore got 88%, usually gets above 70%. Clarke won by that by the devil you know defense. Without a competitive race on the Republican side he will keep getting elected due to crossover.

  31. wisconsin conservative Digest says:

    Gwen did not get the in the finals against Sebring. She is 417th worst congressman in country.

  32. Ryan N says:

    Oh boy, she got 72% and 75% didn’t want Sebring overall, a landslide loss by him. Guaranteed if the Dems had run someone against Clarke in the actual election anyways he wouldn’t have gotten over 55%.

  33. wisconsin conservative Digest says:

    You cannot guarantee the sun will come up inAM.

  34. A Bus Driver says:

    Clarke needs wipe off his black face makeup & put on his white hood. He is a prime example of what self hatred looks like.

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