Dick Morris speculates on an independent campaign by Al Sharpton.

“I intend to be my party’s candidate,” he says, something the average 6-year-old knows won’t happen. “The question is: Will the other candidates support me after I win the nomination!”

Campaigning recently at Washington and Lee University (in the heartland of the old Confederacy), Sharpton refused to rule out a third-party run. Speaking in front of Lee Chapel (where the Civil War general lies buried), he pounded away at the Democratic Party for failing to stand up for the needs of the poor. “We already have one Republican Party,” he said. “We don’t need another one.”

President Bush came in for only passing criticism; the Clintons bore the brunt of his wrath. “We sent out a white man to galvanize the African-American community in 2002 and get them to come to the polls. But he’s not the leader of the black community! And his appeal fell flat – the African-American vote stayed home and the Democrats lost Congress as a result.”

Enraged at the party’s failure to help Carl McCall in his race for governor last year, and angry that the Democratic Party takes the black vote for granted, Sharpton may want to teach the party establishment a lesson: An independent black candidate can cost them the White House.

If Nader can turn the party upside down by getting 3 percent of the national vote, imagine the bargaining power Sharpton would have if he can draw 5 or 6 percent (half of the black vote).

Very interesting and certainly not something I’d put past Sharpton. I can’t imagine that Sharpton would get anywhere near half the black vote; if that happens, we’re in some deep trouble. And, surely, Nader has a much wider appeal than Sharpton. Still, the Democrats are going to have an uphill fight to win the presidency back in 2004 as it is; anything that drains significant votes would be bad news for them.

FILED UNDER: 2004 Election, The Presidency, , , , ,
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. Cam says:

    I for one would love to see Al Sharpton get more press. Think about it… who would you, as a talk show host, rather talk about: Dick Gephardt or Al Sharpton?

    I rest my case. Sharpton in 2004!!!