The time Terry McAuliffe referred to ‘colored people’

Matt K. Lewis Senior Contributor
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This weekend, delegates to the Virginia Republican Party’s convention nominated E.W. Jackson, an African American pastor, for Lt. governor. Almost immediately, he came under fire for past comments, including a line about how it’s time for black voters, “to end the slavish devotion to the Democrat Party.”

But while Jackson’s past remarks may pose challenges for the GOP, his candidacy could also make some past comments by the Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe even more relevant.

For example, there was the time McAuliffe referred to “colored people.”

According to a 2001 AP story, McAuliffe was attempting to convince Atlanta’s first black mayor, Maynard Jackson, to drop his bid for DNC Chairman, when McAuliffe “referr[ed] to blacks as ‘colored people.”’

According to the report, McAuliffe, “talked about preventing authorities from using techniques that intimidate ‘colored people,’ a comment that caused a buzz from some blacks in the crowd.”

McAuliffe’s team later argued that he was attempting to say, “people of color,” and simply reversed the words.

Regardless, National Review’s Byron York, who also wrote about the incident, noted the anti-McAuliffe forces extracted “multiple apologies” over the incident. (Apparently, the line went over about as well as when Matt Damon’s character used it in reference to Bernie Mac’s character in Oceans Eleven.)

And it didn’t end there. Interestingly, McAuliffe’s trouble with the black community followed him to the DNC. As The Hill reported in 2003,

Responding to caucus members’ complaining questions at a meeting last week, DNC Chairman Terry McAuliffe revealed that the DNC had not signed a contract with any African American political consultants for the 2002 election, an attendee said.


McAuliffe also divulged that the committee had a contract with only one African American consultant for 2004, even though African Americans support Democrats over Republicans by a nearly 9-1 margin and are widely seen as a vital segment of the Democratic base.


“I told him that was insulting,” said Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.). “That did not go over well with our caucus.”


Thompson recounted the story of a black political consultant who after repeated attempts to secure a DNC contract took his business proposal to the Republicans, who promptly signed him.

The Washington Post reported Saturday that, “Jackson became the GOP’s first African American nominee for statewide office since 1988.”

Never mind party affiliation, as HuffPost reported, “Jackson will be the first African-American nominee for a statewide post in Virginia in more than two decades.” In that historic context, it will be interesting to see if the Post or other mainstream media outlets are interested in McAuliffe’s controversial comments (and record).

*Disclaimer: My wife previously consulted for Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican gubernatorial nominee.

***Update: Looks like the Washington Post was more accurate than the HuffPost. According to Ben Tribbett, it’s only been a dozen years.

So who was the last African-American to run statewide in the Commonwealth?

Matt K. Lewis