At many different levels of government we are seeing more blacks run for positions as Republicans — namely as conservatives. On Monday we featured an interview with former NFL player Gary Cobb who is running for US Congress in New Jersey. Of course, there’s always a dark side to this as we reported about congressional candidate Glo Smith’s campaign signs defaced — actually “white faced.”But I’d like to share the inspiring story of another woman making a stand: Tiffany Koehler. Ms. Koehler is running for State Assembly in Wisconsin and her primary is today.
As reported by the Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, “When Tiffany Koehler knocks on doors in search of votes for the Assembly, people often assume she’s a Democrat. “I kinda laugh about it and say, ‘No, I’m a conservative,'” Koehler said. She’s a Republican, and what makes that worthy of note is that she is African-American, or as she prefers to say, black. She is running in the Assembly’s 58th District. Koehler, 44, who moved from Greenfield to Slinger in 2012, is not playing up her race in this election, nor is she hiding it. “I can’t ignore it. I do look different from anybody that’s run,” she said.”Ms. Koehler’s journey is quite interesting in that she said she leaned Democrat growing up, but was rebuffed when she tried to start an anti-abortion chapter of the party — so much for inclusiveness and tolerance. Then she took a closer look at the Republican side. “The message of making the right decision, taking responsibility, working hard — that was my whole life,” she said. “I consider myself a compassionate conservative. I want people to share their God-given talents with the world and not be dependent on government.” Her stands on the issues mirror those of her opponents — cutting taxes and spending, defending the right to bear arms, encouraging business growth, to name a few.
Ms. Koehler, who is single, — so much for that whole “liberal progressives own the single women demographic” — served 14 years in the Army Reserves and Wisconsin Army National Guard and graduated from Cardinal Stritch University in 2006. She has worked in the nonprofit sector, most recently as housing director at St. Catherine Residence for women. Hmm, single black female conservative, veteran, and pro-life…and compassionate — certainly blows a hole in the progressive socialist description.
If Ms. Koehler is successful in the GOP primary today, well, guess what? She would become the first black female Republican ever to serve in the Wisconsin Legislature because there is no Democrat running in opposition. This year, 2014, could see her and former Saratoga Springs, Utah Mayor Mia Love become trailblazers — and it is better late than never.Now, don’t go believing Ms. Koehler has had a picture perfect life — quite the contrary.
As the Journal Sentinel recounts, “she was born in 1970. Her father was black and her mother white. “I often joke that I was created during the time when blacks and whites were fighting on the 16th St. viaduct, and my parents were underneath the bridge kissing and making out,” she said. Her father, who as it turned out had a wife and family in Indiana, was in Milwaukee attending college. He did not stick around to be a father to Koehler.”
“Her mother, Mary Koehler, faced mental health challenges through much of her life, and Tiffany Koehler lived in 19 foster homes from birth to age 3 and again from 12 to 18, following a period staying with her mother in Shorewood. It took years for her mother’s parents, who moved in Milwaukee high society circles, and other extended family to accept her, Koehler said. Her mother worked two jobs to support her, and Koehler later took care of her mother until she died in 2010.”Tiffany Koehler has overcome tough odds and has come through a shining example of conservative principles — she possesses that indomitable rugged and resolute American individualism. She could have easily been a victim, but chose to be a victor. And now she wants to take her winning message to the Wisconsin State Legislature.
Well, Tiffany, your greatness will not be determined by your winning or losing in the 58th Assembly primary today. You are simply a reflection of what makes America great, exceptional! Good luck and I look forward to meeting you one day.