Darrell Green, Redskin Legend, Being Recruited by GOP

The Virginia Republican Party is trying to lure former Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green to run for political office.

Former Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell R. Green is being urged to run for the state Senate from Loudoun County next year by leading Northern Virginia Republicans who hope he can use his fame on the football field to oust newly elected Democrat Mark R. Herring. Green, one of the most well-known Redskins from the team’s recent golden era, lives in Loudoun and has been running a nonprofit foundation since he left the team three years ago.


Green was seen making the rounds of Capitol Square in Richmond several weeks ago. “I wanted everyone to meet him,” said U.S. Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), who was in Richmond on March 27 with his congressional colleagues for a regularly scheduled meeting with Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D). After the meeting, Green tossed a football back and forth with U.S. Sen. George Allen (R-Va.) in front of Kaine’s executive mansion. Davis declined to discuss whether Green is being courted, saying only that his candidacy would “be a nice matchup. Darrell would be great if he wanted to run for anything except the 11th Congressional District,” which is the seat Davis holds.

Charles Mann, a former Redskins defensive end and a friend of Green’s, said he had not discussed the candidacy with him. But he said Green would be a “natural” in whatever office he chose to run for. “He’s a born leader. You have to have some kind of leadership mantle to do that,” Mann said. He noted that Green would have nearly 100 percent name identification in the Loudoun district if he ran. “That and a cup of coffee would get you in the running. He would be conservative, absolutely, for whatever that’s worth.”

The Redskins’ training facility is in Ashburn, about four miles from where I used to live. The main highway that runs through the town, Route 28, is named “Darrell Green Boulevard” for quite a stretch. Even as a Cowboys fan, I’ve always liked and admired Green.

Whether Green ultimately runs, the recruitment effort is consistent with efforts by Republicans going back at least a decade to recruit both blacks and famous athletes for office. In a few cases, like Oklahoma’s J.C. Watts and Pennsylvania’s Lynn Swann, they got both at the same time. This is not only a smart strategy from the standpoint of instant name recognition and fundraising ability, it makes sense in trying to broaden the party’s appeal to blacks.

Interestingly, this report comes the day after a story in the same paper (WaPo) by Richard Morin entitled, “Whites Take Flight on Election Day.”

Bad news for Michael S. Steele, the leading Maryland Republican candidate for Senate in November: The scuttling noise he hears on Election Day could be the sound of tens of thousands of white Republicans crossing over to vote for the Democrat.

In fact, white Republicans nationally are 25 percentage points more likely on average to vote for the Democratic senatorial candidate when the GOP hopeful is black, says economist Ebonya Washington of Yale University in a forthcoming article in the Quarterly Journal of Economics. White independents are similarly inclined to vote for the white Democrat when there’s a black Republican running, according to her study of congressional and gubernatorial voting patterns between 1982 and 2000, including five Senate races in which the Republican nominee was black. Her analysis suggests that GOP “white flight” in the Maryland Senate race could mean at least an additional 1 or 2 percent of the vote goes to the Democrat, and perhaps more — but only if the candidate is white. Together, independents who would otherwise vote for a white Republican plus GOP deserters may easily swamp any increase in black Democratic crossover to Steele.

But racially motivated crossover voting is not just a Republican phenomenon. Democrats also desert their party when its candidate is black, Washington found. In House races, white Democrats are 38 percentage points less likely to vote Democratic if their candidate is black. And don’t expect turnout to surge among either blacks or whites in Maryland this November. Washington found that white and black turnout swells when the Democratic candidate for Senate is African American but is not significantly affected when the office-seeker is a black Republican.

I would have to see the study to analyze it but am highly skeptical of the findings. My guess is that the number of black candidates, especially in the GOP, has been sufficiently small as to be unrepresentative. Rather than race, other factors related to the competitiveness or timing of specific races may well be in play.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. The report on whites fleeing black candidates makes me laugh. The reports database is 5 black republican candidates for senate between 1982 and 2000. Why is this a bit silly? Well for one thing it misses the candidacy of Brooks who won two terms to the senate (1966 to 1978) as a black republican. Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what the turn out would be for a candidate good enough to win vs candidates not good enough to be elected?

    Second, it talks about the 38% of white democrats who crossed party lines when the democratic house candidates are black (note the different data base, I wonder what JC Watts would have done to the curve on the republican side). If McKinney is a representative example of the black house candidates, I would argue that the 38% switch is a sign of common sense, not racism.

    And the point of the article is that Steele is some how in trouble, but doesn’t mention the report in the same paper a week before that showed 22 to 44% of black democrats were supportive of Steele (22% vs a generic democratic candidate and 44% when they heard Steeles message). The poll was done by the deomcrats.

    If they could show that proven vote getters were getting seriously less support at the senate level than at lower levels, maybe they have a point. But I suspect most of the “white flight” could be laid at the feet of quality of candidate.

  2. Jamie says:

    That study has to have counted Alan keyes three times: twice in Maryland and once in Illinois. I like Keyes’ conservative views, but he is a lousy politician only hardcore GOP voters would vote for. I imagine he has skewered the results, but then again, I haven’t seen the study, either.

  3. afd says:

    This is not only a smart strategy from the standpoint of instant name recognition and fundraising ability, it makes sense in trying to broaden the party�s appeal to blacks.

    It also shows how tokenism has taken over the Republican party and that governing experience and merit mean nothing to the party. Another idiotic, cynical play by the Republicans.

  4. Mark says:

    There might be some validity to that study. It is generally assumed that Bobby Jindal lost the 2003 Louisiana governor’s race to Kathleen Blanco because some people were not comfortable voting for an Indian. How widespread it is I do not know, but I know it’s out there in some segments.

  5. Eneils Bailey says:

    Isn’t a Washington Post article backed up by a study from Yale University sorta like Michael Jackson calling in OJ Simpson as a character witness?
    Us dumb people out here in the hinterland just don’t put a lot faith in the MSM and Academia.

  6. McGehee says:

    It also shows how tokenism has taken over the Republican party and that governing experience and merit mean nothing to the party.

    Well I’ll be damned. There really isn’t a dime’s worth of difference between them!


    It takes a special aversion to the facts to call anything the Republicans have done in this regard “tokenism.”