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Braun, Carol Moseley 1947–

Carol Moseley Braun 1947

Politician, lawyer

Entered Illinois State Politics

Thomas Appointment Sparked Senate Run

Candidacy Helped by Opponents Fighting

Primary Victory Seen as Powerful Symbol

Won Election Despite Controversy

Reelection Thwarted By Mistakes

Became Educator and Ambassador

Bid For Presidential Campaign

Sources

The political career of Carol Moseley Braun is one that has been filled with groundbreaking triumphs and troubling allegations. Relatively unknown beyond Illinois borders in the early 1990s, Braun became the biggest surprise of the 1992 political season when she defeated two-term Senator Alan Dixon in the March Democratic primary. Vowing to pry open or, if necessary, bulldoze down the closed doors of the U.S. Senate, Braun successfully rode a wave of anti-incumbency and handily won election as the first black woman to the U.S. Senate. Her time in the Senate, however, was marred by IRS inquiries, political blunders on the part of herself and her staff, and mismanagement of a reelection campaign in 1998. When Braun lost her senate seat to Republican Peter Fitzgerald in 1998, she vowed to remove herself from politics altogether and to focus instead on education, working with the U.S. Department of Education and various universities to reach out to minority and female students. But in 1999 she returned to politics, becoming the ambassador to New Zealand under the Clinton Administration. While her time in New Zealand also was clouded by controversy, many still saw Braun as a champion for civil and womens rights. By 2003 she was looking forward to the 2004 presidential election where she hoped to represent the Democratic party in a campaign to become the president of the United States.

Carol Elizabeth Moseley Braun was born on August 16, 1947, to a middle-class family in a segregated neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. Instilled with a strong sense of community interest and commitment to racial justice, a teenaged Braun staged a one-person sit-in at a restaurant that would not serve her, withstood the stone-throwing of whites when she refused to leave an all-white beach, and at 16, marched alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. in an open-housing demonstration in an all-white neighborhood.

Entered Illinois State Politics

Braun received her bachelors degree in political science from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1972. She was an assistant U.S. attorney under future governor of Illinois Jim Thompson, and his deputy, Samuel Skinner. In 1978 the young motherher son, Matthew, had been born a year earliersought

At a Glance

Born Carol Elizabeth Moseley on August 16, 1947, in Chicago, IL; daughter of Joseph (a police officer) and Edna (a medical technician) Moseley; married Michael Braun (divorced); children: Matthew, Education: University of Illinois, Chicago, BA; University of Chicago Law School, JD, 1972.

Career: U.S. Attorneys Office, assistant attorney, c. mid-1970s; Illinois House of Representatives, state representative, 1978-88; Cook County Recorder of Deeds, 1988-91; US. Senate, senator from Illinois, 1992-98; Department of Education, consultant, 1999; U.S. ambassador to New Zealand, 2000-01; Morris Brown College, visiting distinguished professor and scholar in residence, 2001-02; DePaul Universitys College of Commerce, business law professor, 2002-03.

Selected memberships: Illinois State Bar Assn; National Order of Women Legislators; Chicago Council of Lawyers; American Judicature Society; League of Black Women; Jane Addams Center for Social Policy & Research; Alpha Gamma Phi; Urban League; NAACP.

Selected awards: U.S. Department of Justice, special achievement award; best legislator awards from the Independent Voters of Illinois, 1978-88; Karunya Educational Award for Legislative Excellence; Business & Professional Women, Magnificent 7 Award, 1996; Minority Economic Resources Corp, Woman of the Year, 1997; Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance of Chicago, Martin Luther King, Jr. Excellence Award, 1997.

Addresses: Office Former U.S. Senator, United States Senate, Capitol Building, Washington, DC 20510.

and won election to the Illinois House of Representatives in Springfield. It was immediately obvious that Carol was in her element, Brauns former legislative aide, Sue Purrington, told People. She liked the power play and the control.

Braun brought a glowing smile, infectious laugh, and disarming candor to her position, as well as an implacable commitment to the rights of the downtrodden and an ability to bring together rival political factions. She fought for reform in education, welfare, health care, and gun control, often taking on members of her own party when she felt blind party loyalty was interfering with progress. Even when going to the mat with ideological opponents, Braun never let the bitterness and venom of legislative wrangling supplant her personal warmth, arguably her most potent political weapon.

In 1983 Harold Washington, the first black mayor of Chicago, named Braun his floor leader in the legislature, even though she was not the senior legislator from the city. But her unflinching independence, evidenced in her reluctance to follow Washington unquestioningly, reportedly led to his blocking a 1986 recruitment of her to run as the states lieutenant governor. Other events that yearher marriage ended in divorce, her brother died from a drug and alcohol overdose, and her mother suffered a debilitating strokebrought her to the lowest emotional point she had ever seen, but she found a strength, particularly in her religious faith, that empowered her to persevere. In 1988 she was elected Cook County Recorder of Deeds, the first black elected to an executive position in the county. Running an office with 300 employees and an $8 million budget, Braun was credited with streamlining the agency through computerization and eliminating political patronage through the implementation of a code of ethics.

Thomas Appointment Sparked Senate Run

Braun was intending to seek reelection as recorder when President George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to serve on the Supreme Court, an action she publicly decried, arguing that Thomas did not have the judicial record to warrant his serving on the high bench. When the nomination process turned from questions about Thomass intellectual caliber and career to questions surrounding his alleged sexual harassment of Anita Hill, a law professor and one-time Thomas colleague, the issue for Braun and for millions of Americans took on a broader meaning. To be honest, I couldnt bring myself to watch the hearings full time, Braun told Ebony regarding the often explicit televised interrogation of Hill, a black woman, by the white males serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The whole thing was an embarrassment. I mean, it was an embarrassment from the very beginning and by the time [it began focusing on] the sexual harassment issue, it was beyond embarrassing, it was mortifying.

Illinois Senator Dixons vote to confirm Thomas served as a vivid illustration of the insulated world of the U.S. Senate and prompted a call for some diversity among its members. (The body has historically been composed of white males.) Eyes quickly turned to Braun who, as a black woman, cut the figure of prototypical outsider at a time when insider and incumbent were labels seen increasingly as political liabilities. Liberal activists particularly pinned hopes on Braun, whose advocacy of mainstream democratic causes contrasted sharply with the record of Dixon, who in 1991 sided with President Bush, a Republican, 58 percent of the time, more than any other northern Democrat. But Braun, weighing a Senate run, needed more than the urging of her traditional liberal camp. And she got it. By the time I got requests from white males in Republican counties in downstate Illinois, I knew something was up, she reportedly told the New York Times.

Although anti-incumbency fever had gripped the countrya recession and a check-writing scandal in the U.S. House of Representatives had further fueled the throw the bums out causeBraun, by no means a political innocent, knew that her role as giant-killer would not be easy. Illinois senator Al The Pal Dixon had never lost an election in his 43-year political career and was the champion vote-getter in state history. Political observers painted a bleak picture for Braun, whose outsider status would be pitted against Dixons name recognition, his sizable war chest, and his appeal to many conservatives.

Candidacy Helped by Opponents Fighting

Indeed the press paid scant attention to Braun, focusing instead on Dixon and a third primary candidate, Alfred Hofeld, a multimillionaire personal injury and products-liability lawyer and a political newcomer. The publicity she did get usually concerned her grass-roots campaign, which was beset by resignations, disorganization, and charges of mismanagement. She also got little help from her fellow politicians, garnering the support of only two members of the Illinois congressional delegation. Even Brauns ideological ally, Senator Paul Simonwhose 1990 reelection campaign Braun had co-chairedendorsed the more conservative Dixon. Despite fund-raising help from feminist Gloria Steinem, Brauns candidacy appeared so unpromising that political organizations created to provide seed money to womens campaigns across the country gave her nothing or just token contributions late in the race.

But it was this invisibility and low-key profile that political observers say were Brauns most valuable assets. During the campaign, Hofeld spent roughly $5 million on advertisements that trashed Dixon as the archetypal incumbent, an entrenched senator out of touch with his constituency and in the pockets of special interest groups. Dixon retaliated by dishing out $2 million for ads defending himself and targeting Hofeld. Braun was untouched in the fray. And by not participating in the negative advertisements, the defining feature of many modern campaigns, Braun emerged looking the least political andin this period of anti-politicsthe most attractive of all the candidates. We were hammering [Dixon] and he was hammering us and nobody was hammering her, David Axelrod, a Democratic media consultant who worked for Hofeld, told Advertising Age. She was the beneficiary of a set of circumstances that uniquely formed to help her.

Braun, who would later reject the argument that being a third candidate rather than the appeal of her message was at root in her primary victory, reached beyond her core constituency in the black and liberal communities. She traveled the state, delivering speeches that voiced the themes she felt an electorate in the midst of a recession and hungry for change wanted to hear. She made job creation, universal health care, and increased funding for education the cornerstones of her bid. In a testimony to her political savvy, Braun did not dwell on the Thomas-Hill affair, which had provided the spark for her candidacy, because she knew that a majority of citizens still supported Thomass confirmation. Instead, she artfully played to the issue that made the hearings so embarrassing and disconcerting to her and others, particularly to women: the Senate as a white male sanctum.

As a woman and as an African American, Brauns call for changeand there were many such calls in the primary seasonwas the most credible. Im running to return a true Democrat to the Senate, she was quoted as saying in the Nation. But also to give that body a healthy dose of diversity. There is still a lot of anger over Clarence Thomas. But what inspires me is that that anger is focused much more against a system of ideological patronage and a Billionaire Boys Club whose abandonment of domestic policy has brought us to a social and economic precipice.

Primary Victory Seen as Powerful Symbol

Despite spending only $350,000 on the campaignshe could only afford two television advertisements, which ran one week before the electionBraun was the candidate who delivered the victory speech after the votes were counted. The final tally had Braun at 38 percent, Dixon at 35, and Hofeld at 27. Her victory, helped by votes she received from crossover white Republican women, was celebrated by those who would encourage more women to compete for the greatest political trophies in the land, including entry into the 98-percent-male Senate. The Democratic party in 1992 boasted 16 women running for the Senate, and at the national convention in July, six of the candidates, including Braun, were introduced to national audiences in the hope that the party would appear as the legitimate tool to upset Washington D.C.s political state of affairs.

Determined to frustrate Brauns wish to become the first black woman senator and the first black Democratic senator since post-Civil War Reconstruction was Richard Williamson, a one-time assistant secretary of state in the Ronald Reagan White House and a former aide to President Bush. Although the candidates were expected to have far more even levels of money than was the case in the primary, some observers felt that Braun could not enjoy the luxury of keeping a low profile and slipping through the political cracks in the general election. Williamson, who initially had been recruited by the Republican party to run as a sacrificial lamb against the powerful Dixon, made it clear early on in his candidacy that he would use any means possible to cast Braun as a big-spending, big-taxing liberal.

Brauns supporters hoped she would not shrink from the anticipated barrage of criticism and that she would be able to sustain a viable campaign. Braun voiced her support for a personal income tax increase on the top one percent of wage-earners, $100 billion worth of cuts in defense spending, a capital gains tax cut (which would decrease taxes on the increased value of investments), and a universal health care plan. Its a historic candidacy and were looking to make history, she told the Boston Globe. The state is ready and willing to strike a blow for revitalizing our democracy and opening the doors to the Senate.

Won Election Despite Controversy

History was indeed made, but not before several scandals had eroded the huge lead Braun had carried over from her primary victory. The most taxing political crisis came when a local television station reported that Braun had mishandled a $28,750 royalty payment made to her mother on timber sales from family-owned land in Alabama. Williamson capitalized on the controversy, accusing Braun of lacking integrity because the money had not been turned over to the state, as required by law, to determine if it should be used to help pay Edna Moseleys nursing home bills, which were being funded by Medicaid. Braun admitted to mishandling the money, and her favorability ratings dropped precipitously. Also dogging her candidacy were concerns leftover from her primary fightnamely that she had not built a disciplined campaign and that she was running on a general anti-incumbency platform rather than on detailed, well-articulated positions.

But Williamson failed to present himself as a reasonable, strong alternative, and Braun managed to win a decisive ten-point victory, garnering support from a broad-based coalition that spanned racial, geographic, and gender lines. On November 3, 1992, Carol Moseley Braun joined other female candidates, including Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California, in winning entrance to the U.S. Senate and in shaking up the white male political hierarchy in Washington, D.C.

Trying to shake off many of her political opponents early on, Braun worked hard to make her name become connected with positive movements within the Senate and to push for more focus on civil rights and the rights of women, two of the main issues that she had used during her campaign for office. By 1995 things seemed to be heading in the right direction for Braun as she was named to the Senate Finance Committee. This was an honor not only because the Finance Committee was one of the most powerful in the Senate, but also because Braun was the first woman to be named to a full term on the Committee. She told Jet that she felt she could make a difference by being on this committee because The legislation that comes before the Finance Committee affects every Americanparticularly middle-class Americans, poor Americans, and elderly Americans.

Reelection Thwarted By Mistakes

The next two years would be trying times for Braun as she weathered accusation after accusation. When she visited Nigeria in 1996 on a vacation, she was chided by many members of the government for showing support for the authoritarian government run by General Sani Abacha, a man notorious for human rights violations. She was also admonished for not notifying the State Department of her trip to the country, but as she told Jet, I am not a member of the administration, and it is up to the president and his administration to conduct U.S. foreign policy. And I made it clear when I was there that I was on private time, and it was a private trip. There was also question as to what funds were used to pay for this trip and an inquiry was started into Brauns personal and government funds.

Another scandal that rocked her time in office was the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) criminal tax divisions investigation of her 1992 campaign as well as her time as the Cook County recorder. The IRS claimed that Braun had used $280,000 that she had raised in political donations for personal expenses including trips to foreign countries, two jeeps, jewelry, and clothes. Fortunately for Braun, these charges were never brought to fruition due to Justice Department intercession and a lack of funding in the IRS to keep the investigation going, but the press heavily covered the IRSs claims and the public began to lose trust in Braun.

By the time 1998 rolled around, it was clear that Braun was going to have a difficult time holding onto her Senate seat. Even though then-President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton supported her, Braun could do little to change the perception of her that was filtering through the public. She focused her campaign around the idea of apologizing for past mistakes and looking forward to a more productive political future. This bolstered little public support. The final blows to her campaign came late in the election when she verbally insulted a conservative columnist with racial slurs and was also found to have her sister selling fund-raiser tickets directly out of her office, which is a campaign law violation. When the election was held in November of 1998, Braun found herself on the losing side by four percent of the vote.

Became Educator and Ambassador

After the election Braun told the Chicago Tribune, as quoted in Jet that she would never again run for public office. Instead, she decided to focus on education, one of the issues during her time as a senator that meant the most to her. She was approached by the U.S. Department of Education and taken on as a consultant in charge of investigating school construction issues and reporting these to the departments Intergovernmental and Interagency Affairs.

Shortly after this, however, Braun was approached by the Clinton administration to become an ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. At first it appeared that Braun would turn them down, for according to the Chicago Tribune and reprinted in Black Issues in Higher Education, a source close to Braun said, This job [with the Education Department] keeps her in the country and is temporary in nature while she waits for her other options to gel. I dont think she wanted to go halfway around the world. This source was soon proved incorrect when Braun accepted the appointment. However, her confirmation was held up by the late Senator Jesse Helms, but she was finally sworn in on December 9, 1999.

While her time in New Zealand helped to remove her from much of the critical eye of the American public, it was not without its own controversy. Only ten months after she had arrived in New Zealand, she was involved with allegations that she had accepted free hotel stays as well as other gifts which are ethical violations of the ambassadorial position. Braun was cleared by the Justice Department of all wrong doing, but to many this was just one more example of Brauns inability to lead without corruption.

Braun returned from New Zealand in 2001 and accepted a position as a visiting distinguished professor and scholar in residence at Morris Brown College. After a year there, she moved on to teach business law at DePaul Universitys College of Commerce. Many people felt that this was a perfect position for Braun since she herself had been at the center of many controversial issues revolving around business laws. Braun herself told Black Issues in Higher Education that her purpose in teaching the class was to recommit to producing leaders who better understand and can better fulfill their responsibilities.

Bid For Presidential Campaign

In mid-2003 Braun decided that it was time for her to leave education once again for politics, and registered to establish a presidential exploratory committee which would allow her to vie for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004. Many people have already questioned Brauns intentions for running in this race but as she told Black Enterprise, Im in this race to ensure that the American dream finally gets extended to all Americans without regard to race, color, or gender.

Many of Brauns critics have already pointed to the fact that she was already running a campaign based not on issues but on the fact that she is a minority female. However, according to Off Our Backs magazine, Braun hopes to lead the Democrats to offer a sharper contrast to the policies of the current administration. She has criticized Bushs push for war on Iraq despite the lack of international support and his tax cuts that she says our children will be forced to pay for later. Braun also hoped that voters will look towards her experience as a deciding factor. She told Black Enterprise, I am the only former diplomat in the race, and as a former state representative and Cook County recorder of deeds, Im the only one with both state and local government experience.

While it is still too early to establish the amount of support that Braun will receive in the presidential election, and while many feel that her campaign will be an uphill struggle at best, Braun was used to facing adversity, experience she hoped would lift her above any struggles she faces on her road to the White House. She told CNN News, as reprinted on Americas Intelligence Wire, I hope that this campaign will be about the future. That Ill be able to talk about my whole record as well as my standing for human rights, my standing for reform in government, my standing for inclusion. And thats what this campaign is all about, and thats why Im so excited about it, because it gives me a chance to engage on those issues.

Sources

Advertising Age, May 18, 1992.

Americas Intelligence Wire, February 20, 2003.

Black Enterprise, October 1992; June 2003, pp. 31-2.

Black Issues in Higher Education, January 21, 1999, p. 24; July 5, 2001, p. 32; August 15, 2002, p. 12.

Boston Globe, March 19, 1992; November 5, 1992.

Detroit Free Press, July 21, 1992.

Dollars & Sense, November 1992.

Ebony, June 1992.

Emerge, June 1992; August 1992.

Essence, October 1992.

Jet, January 23, 1995, p. 4; September 9, 1996, pp. 38-9.

Nation, March 23, 1992.

National Review, November 22, 1999.

New York Times, March 19, 1992; July 14, 1992.

Off Our Backs, May-June 2003, p. 7.

People, April 6, 1992.

US Newswire, December 9, 1999.

Wall Street Journal, March 20, 1992.

Washington Post, March 26, 1992; April 28, 1992.

Isaac Rosen and Ralph G. Zerbonia

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Braun, Carol Moseley 1947–

Carol Moseley Braun 1947

Politician, lawyer

At a Glance

Drafted for Senate Run

Candidacy Helped by Opponents Fighting

Primary Victory Seen as Powerful Symbol

Won Election Despite Controversy

Sources

Ever on the lookout for political trends and demographic patterns, critics have taken to calling 1992 the Year of the Womana tag line owed in significant part to Carol Moseley Brauns rising star on the American civic scene. Relatively unknown beyond Illinois borders, Braun became the biggest surprise of the 92 political season when she defeated two-term Senator Alan Dixon in the March Democratic primary. Vowing to pry open or, if necessary, bulldoze down the closed doors of the U.S. Senate, Braun successfully rode a wave of anti-incumbency and secured the votes of many who felt the old-boys network on Capitol Hill could stand a change. Generally ignored by her opponents and the press before the primary, the victorious Braun emerged as a symbol of the reinvigoration of the Democratic party and an embodiment of the potent force women candidates began to exert on American politics in the last decades of the twentieth century. Although several controversies taxed the momentum of her candidacy as she approached the November 3rd general election, Braun so successfully tapped voter discontent with the political status quo that she handily won election as the first black woman to the U.S. Senate.

Carol Elizabeth Moseley Braun was born August 16,1947, to a middle-class family in a segregated neighborhood on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. Instilled with a strong sense of community interest and commitment to racial justice, a teenaged Braun staged a one-person sit-in at a restaurant that would not serve her, withstood the stone-throwing of whites when she refused to leave an all-white beach, and at 16, marched alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., in an open-housing demonstration in an all-white neighborhood.

Braun received her bachelors degree in political science from the University of Illinois, Chicago, and graduated from the University of Chicago Law School in 1972. She was an assistant U.S. attorney under future governor of Illinois Jim Thompson, and his deputy, Samuel Skinner. In 1978 the young motherher son Matthew had been born a year earliersought and won election to the Illinois House of Representatives in Springfield. It was immediately obvious that Carol was in her element, Brauns former legislative aide, Sue Purrington, was quoted as telling People.She liked the power play and the control.

Braun brought a glowing smile, infectious laugh, and disarming candor to her position, as well as an implacable commitment to the rights of the downtrodden and an

At a Glance

Born Carol Elizabeth Moseley, August 16,1947, in Chicago, IL; daughter of Joseph (a police officer) and Edna (a medical technician) Moseley; married Michael Braun (divorced); children: Matthew, Education: University of Illinois, Chicago, B.A.; University of Chicago Law School, J.D., 1972.

U.S. Attorneys Office, assistant attorney, c mid-1970s; Illinois House of Representatives, Springfield, state representative, 1978-88, became assistant majority leader; Cook County Recorder of Deeds, 1988-91; elected to U.S. Senate, 1992.

Selected awards: U.S. Department of Justice special achievement award; best legislator awards from the Independent Voters of Illinois, 1978-88.

Addresses; Office 201 North Wells St., Suite 900, Chicago, IL 60606; or c/o U.S. Senate, Washington, DC20510.

ability to bring together rival political factions. She fought for reform in education, welfare, health care, and gun control, often taking on members of her own party when she felt blind party loyalty was interfering with progress. Even when going to the mat with ideological opponents, Braun never let the bitterness and venom of legislative wrangling supplant her personal warmth, arguably her most potent political weapon.

In 1983 Harold Washington, the first black mayor of Chicago, named Braun his floor leader in the legislature, even though she was not the senior legislator from the city. But her unflinching independence, evidenced in her reluctance to follow Washington unquestioningly, reportedly led to his blocking a 1986 recruitment of her to run as the states lieutenant governor. Other events that yearher marriage ended in divorce, her brother died from a drug and alcohol overdose, her mother suffered a debilitating strokebrought her to the lowest emotional point she had ever seen, but she found a strength, particularly in her religious faith, that empowered her to persevere. In 1988 she was elected Cook County Recorder of Deeds, the first black elected to an executive position in the county. Running an office with 300 employees and an $8 million budget, Braun was credited with streamlining the agency through computerization and eliminating political patronage through the implementation of a code of ethics.

Drafted for Senate Run

Braun was intending to seek reelection as recorder when President George Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to serve on the Supreme Court, an action she publicly decried, arguing that Thomas did not have the judicial record to warrant his serving on the high bench. When the nomination process turned from questions about Thomass intellectual caliber and career to questions surrounding his alleged sexual harassment of Anita Hill, a law professor and one-time Thomas colleague, the issue for Braun and for millions of Americans took on a broader meaning. To be honest, I couldnt bring myself to watch the hearings full time, Braun was quoted as telling Ebony, regarding the often explicit televised interrogation of Hill, a black woman, by the white males serving on the Senate Judiciary Committee. The whole thing was an embarrassment. I mean, it was an embarrassment from the very beginning and by the time [it began focusing on] the sexual harassment issue, it was beyond embarrassing, it was mortifying.

Illinois senator Dixons vote to confirm Thomas served as a vivid illustration of the insulated world of the U.S. Senate and prompted a call for some diversity among its members. (The body has historically been composed of white males.) Eyes quickly turned to Braun, who, as a black woman, cut the figure of prototypical outsider at a time when insider and incumbent were labels seen increasingly as political liabilities. Liberal activists particularly pinned hopes on Braun, whose advocacy of mainstream democratic causes contrasted sharply with the record of Dixon, who in 1991 sided with President Bush, a Republican, 58 percent of the time, more than any other northern Democrat. But Braun, weighing a Senate run against Dixon, needed more than the urging of her traditional liberal camp. And she got it. By the time I got requests from white males in Republican counties in downstate Illinois, I knew something was up, she told the New York Times.

Although anti-incumbency fever had gripped the countrya recession and a check-writing scandal in the U.S. House of Representatives had further fueled the throw the bums out causeBraun, by no means a political innocent, knew that her role as giant-killer would not be easy. Illinois senator Al The Pal Dixon had never lost an election in his 43-year political career and was the champion vote-getter in state history. Political observers painted a bleak picture for Braun, whose outsider status would be pitted against Dixons name recognition, his sizable war chest, and his appeal to many conservatives.

Indeed the press paid scant attention to Braun, focusing instead on Dixon and a third primary candidate, Alfred Hofeld, a multimillionaire personal injury and products-liability lawyer and a political newcomer. The publicity she did get usually concerned her grass-roots campaign, which was beset by resignations, disorganization, and charges of mismanagement. She also got little help from her fellow politicians, garnering the support of only two members of the Illinois congressional delegation. Even Brauns ideological ally, Senator Paul Simonwhose 1990 reelection campaign Braun had co-chairedendorsed the more conservative Dixon. Despite fund-raising help from feminist Gloria Steinem, Brauns candidacy appeared so unpromising that political organizations created to provide seed money to womens campaigns across the country gave her nothing or just token contributions late in the race.

Candidacy Helped by Opponents Fighting

But it was this invisibility and low-key profile that political observers say were Brauns most valuable assets. During the campaign, Hofeld spent roughly $5 million on advertisements that trashed Dixon as the archetypal incumbent, an entrenched senator out of touch with his constituency and in the pockets of special interest groups. Dixon retaliated by dishing out $2 million for ads defending himself and targeting Hofeld. Braun was untouched in the fray. And by not participating in the negative advertisements, the defining feature of many modern campaigns, Braun emerged looking the least political andin this period of anti-politicsthe most attractive of all the candidates. We were hammering [Dixon] and he was hammering us and nobody was hammering her, David Axelrod, a Democratic media consultant who worked for Hofeld, commented in Advertising Age.She was the beneficiary of a set of circumstances that... uniquely formed to help her.

Braun, who would later reject the argument that a third candidate rather than the appeal of her message was at the root of her primary victory, reached beyond her core constituency in the black and liberal communities. She traveled the state, delivering speeches that voiced the themes she felt an electorate in the midst of a recession and hungry for change wanted to hear. She made job creation, universal health care, and increased funding for education the cornerstones of her bid. In a testimony to her political savvy, Braun did not dwell on the Thomas-Hill affair, which had provided the spark for her candidacy, because she knew that a majority of citizens still supported Thomass confirmation. Instead, she artfully played to the issue that made the hearings so embarrassing and disconcerting to her and others, particularly to women: the Senate as a white male sanctum.

As a woman and as an African American, Brauns call for changeand there were many such calls in the primary seasonwas the most credible. Im running to return a true Democrat to the Senate, she was quoted as saying in the Nation.But also to give that body a healthy dose of diversity.... There is still a lot of anger over Clarence Thomas. But what inspires me is that that anger is focused much more against a system of ideological patronage and a Billionaire Boys Club whose abandonment of domestic policy has brought us to a social and economic precipice.

Primary Victory Seen as Powerful Symbol

Despite spending only $350,000 on the campaignshe could only afford two television advertisements, which ran one week before the electionBraun was the candidate who delivered the victory speech when the votes were counted. The final tally had Braun at 38 percent, Dixon at 35, and Hofeld at 27. Her victory, helped by votes she received from crossover white Republican women, was celebrated by those who would encourage more women to compete for the greatest political trophies in the land, including entry into the 98-percent-male Senate. The Democratic party in 1992 boasted 16 women running for the Senate, and at the national convention in July, six of the candidates, including Braun, were introduced to national audiences in the hope that the party would appear as the legitimate tool to upset Washington D.C.s political state of affairs.

Determined to frustrate Brauns wish to become the first black woman senator and the first black Democratic senator since post-Civil War Reconstruction was Richard Williamson, a one-time assistant secretary of state in the Ronald Reagan White House and a former aide to President Bush. Although the candidates were expected to have far more equal financial backing than was the case in the primary, some observers felt that Braun could not enjoy the luxury of keeping a low profile and slipping through the political cracks in the general election. Williamson, who initially had been recruited by the Republican party to run as a sacrificial lamb against the powerful Dixon, made it clear early on in his candidacy that he would use any means possible to cast Braun as a big-spending, big-taxing liberal.

Brauns supporters hoped she would not shrink from the anticipated barrage of criticism and that she would be able to sustain a viable campaign. Braun voiced her support for a personal income tax increase on the top one percent of wage-earners, $100 billion worth of cuts in defense spending, a capital gains tax cut (which would decrease taxes on the increased value of investments), and a universal health care plan. Its a historic candidacy and were looking to make history, she was quoted as telling the Boston Globe. The state is ready and willing to strike a blow for revitalizing our democracy and opening the doors to the Senate.

Won Election Despite Controversy

History was indeed made, but not before several scandals had eroded the huge lead Braun had carried over from her primary victory. The most taxing political crisis came when a local television station reported that Braun had mishandled a $28,750 royalty payment made to her mother on timber sales from family-owned land in Alabama. Williamson capitalized on the controversy, accusing Braun of lacking integrity because the money had not been turned over to the state, as required by law, to determine if it should be used to help pay Edna Moseleys nursing home bills, which were being funded by Medicaid. Braun admitted mishandling the money, and her favorability ratings dropped precipitously. Also dogging her candidacy were concerns leftover from her primary fightnamely that she had not built a disciplined campaign and that she was running on a general anti-incumbency platform rather than on detailed, well-articulated positions.

But Williamson failed to present himself as a reasonable, strong alternative, and Braun managed to win a decisive ten-point victory, garnering support from a broad-based coalition that spanned racial, geographic, and gender lines. On November 3, 1992, Carol Moseley Braun joined other female candidates, including Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein of California, in winning entrance to the U.S. Senate and in shaking up the white male political hierarchy in Washington, D.C.

Sources

Advertising Age, May 18, 1992.

Black Enterprise, October 1992.

Boston Globe, March 19, 1992; November 5, 1992.

Detroit Free Press, July 21, 1992.

Dollars & Sense, November 1992.

Ebony, June 1992.

Emerge, June 1992; August 1992.

Essence, October 1992.

Nation, March 23, 1992.

New York Times, March 19, 1992; July 14, 1992.

People, April 6, 1992.

Wall Street Journal, March 20, 1992.

Washington Post, March 26, 1992; April 28, 1992.

Isaac Rosen

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"Braun, Carol Moseley 1947–." Contemporary Black Biography. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Jul. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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