In cities like Baltimore, MD, it’s not easy for a black Republican to run for office. It may sound like a cliche, but stories like this show that in these cities, the opposition will stop at nothing to maintain the status quo. This reality became even more evident during a Zoom debate between candidates seeking to become the next mayor of the city.
Pastor Shannon Wright is a black Republican candidate who is attempting to end the streak of Democratic domination of the office of mayor. But, as a conservative running in a heavily blue city, she has run into some rather unorthodox challenges.
Last Friday, Wright participated in a Zoom debate with Brandon Scott, a Democrat, and Bob Wallace, an Independent. The virtual event had nearly one hundred people watching. Before the proceedings began, each candidate was given a chance to introduce themselves and give an opening statement. But when it was Wright’s turn to speak, she was interrupted.
“When I started my opening, music started blaring. And I mean like, terroristic level volume like you would see in a movie where they’re using it to be a disrupting factor,” Wright told RedState. “Then this man’s voice came on and said ‘I pledge my life to Pakistan,’ and then the voice just continued, started calling me a ‘n*gger.’”
The disruption then turned to racist threats. Wright stated that the voice repeatedly said “I’ll shank you, n*gger.” The candidate explained that the individual who interrupted her opening “hijacked my screen and started showing pictures of women in different international attire,” and continually threatened to shank her.”
Video footage of the incident backs up Wright’s remarks and shows the facilitators of the event trying to figure out how to lock out the intruder and stop the disruption. This type of action is known as “Zoom bombing,” and typically occurs during business meetings held by various companies.
While the identity of the Zoom bomber is unknown, Wright believes this was a targeted attack on her candidacy. But she explained that they debate was restarted and she continued with her opening. “I knew in my spirit that it was one of my opponents, and I was pretty clear about which one it was, but I was not going to give them the satisfaction of making me fall apart. I didn’t come this far to do that,” she explained.
This is not the first time Wright has dealt with obstacles during her candidacy. During the primaries, David Anthony Wiggins, one of her opponents, was upset at her decision to run for mayor. Despite being a black man, he seemed to believe that a black woman should not be seeking office. “There was a gentleman that was one of my opponents in the primaries who declared publicly online that I should be beheaded for being a black woman who does not know her place,” Wright said.
The candidate said Wiggins’ feud with her escalated during a committee meeting. “He pulled a knife at one of our meetings. He tried to jump in my face and start a fight, and people had to push him away from me,” she recalled. “He actually ended up in a criminal trial, and he was convicted of two charges of 2nd-degree assault against me.”
Court records confirm Wright’s claims. He was sentenced to three months in prison and a three-year restraining order.
Wright explained that for Republicans in Baltimore, running for office is an immense challenge due to widespread distrust of the GOP. The city has not had a Republican mayor since 1967.“Republicans are traditionally, just overlooked. We’re doing well if we crack 30 percent of the vote,” Wright stated.
However, the pastor remains undaunted. “We’re at 60 percent name recognition in the city. The favorables are actually pretty good,” she said.
Wright indicated that during the early parts of her candidacy, she did not receive much support from the Maryland State Republican Party. However, it seems things have changed. When asked about the involvement of the GOP in her campaign, she said: “It’s funny that you would ask that. A couple of weeks ago, my answer would have been very different. I wasn’t getting as much support as I would have liked [at first], but I will say that that has absolutely changed.”
The candidate explained that the Republican Party is going to help her campaign do “some polling” and that they will be “running a significant campaign with radio ads.” Moreover, she said “they’re actually pointing people in our direction to help with staffing.”
Wright’s platform is focused largely on public safety and ending poverty. She seeks to eliminate the crime tax because “it is the only way a Baltimore anti-poverty effort is to succeed.”
She also believes the city government should “help neighborhood groups form anti-crime patrols, stimulate interest among residents in joining existing patrols.”