Curtis Stokes, the former head of the Hillsborough County branch of the NAACP, said today that he will run as a Democrat for Tampa City Council in 2011 in District 2 (the seat is term limited out for Linda Saul-Sena next year).
Stokes was named to head the local branch back in 2006, but quit the post last September, saying at the time that he wanted to spend more time with his family.
Stokes said today that his conversion to the Democratic Party was the culmination of several events. "Having been a president of the NAACP, you see things a little differently than you did before," he said.
"When you look at some of the things that my Republican brethren do and talk about locally, they don't align with who I am."
When asked what he didn't align with the GOP on, Stokes mentioned indigent health care and gay rights as two examples. Back in 2007 he publicly discussed leaving the party, after several Republicans on the Hillsborough County Commission voted in support of a Confederate Memorial Day.
When asked about the controversy that erupted this weekend in Washington, where Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is quoted in a new book as saying describing Barack Obama as "light skinned" and "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one," conservatives have been outraged that there have not been calls by Democrats for Reid to step down from his position, as former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott did back in 2002, after racially divisive comments he made in praising former Senator Strom Thurmond.
"There is," Stokes said when asked if he believes there is a double standard for Republicans vs. Democrats when it comes to having to atone for making racial remarks. "There I think Harry Reid should resign, because if a Republican did it he'd have to resign. And he should apologize. Not just to Barack Obama, but to black people. "