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Chapter 2 Constructing a Moderate Multiracial Coalition in “America’s Most Diverse City”: Kevin Johnson and Coalition Politics in Sacramento

21st Century Urban Race Politics: Representing Minorities as Universal Interests

ISBN: 978-1-78190-184-7, eISBN: 978-1-78190-185-4

ISSN: 0195-7449

Publication date: 4 April 2013

Abstract

Purpose – The purpose of this chapter is to contribute to the growing academic literature on “post-racial” African American leadership by exploring the election and reelection of Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson. Johnson is emblematic of the current generation of young African American leaders: politically moderate, less likely to employ overt racial appeals, and able to assemble a multiethnic political coalition.Design/methodology/approach – This chapter utilizes a combination of semi-structured interviews and multivariate quantitative analysis of an original dataset to reveal both the diversity of the Johnson coalition and the high support for Johnson’s candidacy in Sacramento’s African American community.Findings – Johnson’s case demonstrates the durability of an explicitly moderate, reform-minded, and technocratic coalition and epitomizes the “universalized interest” approach to governance – simultaneously developing strategies to mobilize African American support and formulating public policies to advance group interests while articulating a universalized policy framework.Social implications – On the night that Barack Obama was elected president, Johnson became the first African American, to be elected Mayor of Sacramento. To do so, Johnson assembled a diverse electoral coalition that resembled the Obama coalition. However, this case study demonstrates the unique challenges facing an African American mayor in a majority white city and reveals the continuing importance of race in “post-Obama” urban politics.Originality/value – This chapter utilizes a unique dataset and rigorous methodology for analyzing voting behavior and multiracial coalition formation in American cities. The voter file data analyzed in this study remains an underutilized resource for urban scholars.

Citation

Cook, C. (2013), "Chapter 2 Constructing a Moderate Multiracial Coalition in “America’s Most Diverse City”: Kevin Johnson and Coalition Politics in Sacramento", Perry, R.K. (Ed.) 21st Century Urban Race Politics: Representing Minorities as Universal Interests (Research in Race and Ethnic Relations, Vol. 18), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 13-31. https://doi.org/10.1108/S0195-7449(2013)0000018006

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2013, Emerald Group Publishing Limited