March 19, 2004
Bell makes peace with Green

I'm glad to see this.

Houston Rep. Chris Bell is attempting to mend a rift among House Democrats that grew out of the racially divisive election he lost to Al Green earlier this month.

Bell met this week with Democratic House leaders who were angered by members of the Congressional Black Caucus who sided with Green against the first-term lawmaker in the party's March 9 primary.

Bell plans to meet today with Green and invite the former NAACP leader to Washington to meet with the Democratic caucus in an effort to heal any wounds left from the election.

"There's some significant anger on the part of some members that colleagues would back an opponent, and I don't think that serves us at all," Bell said.

House members traditionally support incumbent members of their own party -- or remain neutral -- in primary elections, no matter who the challenger is.

Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., criticized fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus for taking sides against Bell. "You have an incumbent, and you don't support the incumbent? It was inappropriate," Ford told Congressional Quarterly.

Bell met Wednesday with House Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi, of California; Steny Hoyer, of Maryland; and Bob Menendez, of Maryland, urging them to put aside any rancor with the Black Caucus over his defeat.

"The last thing I want is to be is the poster boy for racial discord," Bell said.

This was both the smart and appropriate thing for Bell to do, and I applaud him for it. He's right to not give any further victories to Tom DeLay's divisive tactics. He's also only 44 and needs to consider his own political future, assuming he wants one. I know what office I'd like to see him run for next.

UPDATE: Greg adds some thoughts.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on March 19, 2004 to Election 2004 | TrackBack

I agree -- good for Chris. My own interactions with him make him rather unlikeable to me.

But this is a solid move. Not only is it good politics, it's a gentleman's maneuver. Good for Bell.

Posted by: Another Rice Grad on March 23, 2004 2:27 AM