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GOP Cong. Eli Crane's "Colored" People Remark

GOP Congressmember Eli Crane—He Calls Black Americans “Colored People” July 23, 2023

The GOP may have originally been known as the party of the “Great Emancipator,” Civil War victor and assassinated 16th President Abraham Lincoln. However, today that’s ancient history. Since 1964 when GOP right-wing presidential nominee Senator Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) voted against LBJ’s landmark Civil Rights bill, that party has turned against helping African Americans fight for equal rights. Goldwater, in fact, stated to fellow GOPers that we have to “go hunting where the ducks are.” Translation: Aim for the votes of white Southerners, not Blacks. In 1968, presidential nominee Richard Nixon made “no bones” about initiating such a Southern Strategy. During his campaign, Nixon told Southern whites, including key Southern stalwart Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) that he would help the South with its agenda by down pedaling civil rights issues. Nixon won office in 1968 by peeling away several normally Democratic-voting Southern states. In office, Nixon continued this Southern Strategy. He opposed many civil rights matters and did his best to appoint Southerners to the Supreme Court and other high positions. When civil rights supporter, former GOP Michigan Gov. George Romney, Mitt’s father, strongly pushed for better housing for Blacks as head of Nixon’s Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), many of Nixon’s aides often called him behind his back a “damned Mormon missionary.” As a result of all Nixon’s moves, many Southern Whites, formerly Democrats because Lincoln’s Republicans fought and defeated them in the Civil War, switched political sides. The “Solid Democratic South” became the “Solid Republican South,” not just in presidential elections, but right down the entire ticket. Blacks overwhelmingly voted Democratic, but as a minority, continued to lose state and national elections in the racially polarized South. Today, GOPers throughout the country understand the fact that the South is their electoral linchpin. Many of those same GOP legislators ignore the needs of African Americans. GOPers are more than blatant today in publicly arguing for the White South and the issues that most concern them. Just recently, Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) publicly refused to acknowledge that white nationalism is fundamentally racist. He defended white nationalists serving in the military because they are simply people “that have a few, probably different beliefs (, Richards, 7/13/14).” And almost right after Tuberville’s awful remarks, Congressmember Eli Crane (R-AZ) showed his horrible insensitivity toward Black Americans. Rep. Crane proposed an amendment to the annual defense policy bill that would prohibit the Defense Department from considering race, gender, religion, political affiliations or “any other ideological concepts” as the sole basis for recruitment training, education, promotion, or retention decisions. Crane also stated, “My amendment has nothing to do with whether or not ‘colored people’ or Black people or anybody can serve. It has nothing to do with any of that stuff (, Richards, 7/13/23).”

Right after Rep. Crane’s remarks, Cong. Joyce Beatty (D-OH), formerly chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, sternly rebuked Crane for his “colored people” remarks. Cong. Beatty asked that that derogatory phrase be stricken from the record. Cong. Beatty declared, “I find it (the ‘colored’ term) very offensive and very inappropriate. I am asking for unanimous consent to take down the words referring to me or any of my colleagues as colored people.’” Rep. Crane asked to amend his “people of color” comments. However, Cong. Beatty insisted that these words be stricken from the record. These remarks were removed by unanimous consent ( When asked in an interview why he used those choice of words, Crane stated he “misspoke… in a heated debate.” He then added that “Every one of us is made in the image of God and created equal (, Richards, 7/13/23).” In another interview with “Politico’s” Olivia Beavers, Cong. Crane told her he “deeply regrets using the words ‘colored people’ on the House floor.’” Crane told Beavers he “is mad at himself that it (his ‘colored people’ statement) has blown back on his team (, McCarter, 7/14/23).’” So that’s what really bothers Cong. Crane. He’s more upset that the GOP is getting hurt by his statement than are African Americans. It’s all about bad public relations for “Team Red.” Some apology! IMHO, Cong. Crane’s “apology” should, therefore, not be taken very seriously. Let’s look closely at Cong. Crane.

First-term Congressmember Elijah (Eli) James Crane (43) currently represents Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District (CD). The most recently redistricted AZ 2nd CD, located in the northeastern part of the Grand Canyon State, now includes all of Apache, Coconino, Gila, Navajo, and Yavapai Counties. The 2nd also has parts of Graham, Maricopa, Mohave, and Pinal Counties. Flagstaff is the 2nd’s largest city (wiki). The AZ 2nd takes in 12 Native American reservations, including the Hopi, Navajo, and San Carlos Apache people. Twenty-two percent of the AZ 2nd ‘s citizens are Native Americans. Whites make up 55.3% of this district and 16.9% of its population is Hispanic ( AZ’s latest redistricting is not gerrymandered. The Independent Redistricting Committee (IRC), created in 2000 by a statewide referendum, was tasked with forming the new districts. The IRC described the new 2nd CD as politically “outside of competitive range.” The 2nd’s demographics favor the GOP. The political outfit FiveThirtyEight said that the AZ 2nd votes Republican by 15 percentage points more than the entire country (Arizona Republic, Kavaler, T., 10/18/22). The 2nd, according to Chuck Coughlin, president and CEO of the Phoenix consulting firm HighGround Inc., constitutes a mainly rural district that remains most concerned about the performance of the economy and the high cost of living, with gas being $5 a gallon. Coughlin stated that the AZ 2nd “is not a wealthy district, but a working class one (AZ Republic, Kavaler).” The 2022 Cook PVI (Partisan Voting Index) gives the 2nd a “Red” R+6 score (, Cook Political Report).

Tucson, AZ native Eli Crane grew up in Yuma where his father was a pharmacist. After graduating high school in 1998, Crane studied sociology at Arizona Western College and the University of Arizona. One week after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, he dropped out of college and enlisted in the U.S. Navy where he served from 2001-2014. He graduated from Underwater Demolition/SEAL training and became a Navy SEAL. During his career as a Navy SEAL, Crane was deployed five times (, Hansen, R.J., 7/08/21). After leaving the military, Crane co-founded Bottle Breacher, a company that manufactures bottle openers made of 50-caliber shell casings. Crane and his wife pitched this product on an episode of “Shark Tank” and received investments from Kevin O’Leary and Mark Cuban (Aleshire,, 4/05/22, Fraioli, 10/24/18, Crane’s net worth is estimated to be around $4-6 million. He earns around $80-85,000 monthly (Jones, A., world, 2/13/23).

Demagogue Donald endorsed Crane in his 2022 race for Congress ( In addition, before the 8/2022 GOP primary, Crane accepted the endorsement of far right AZ state senator Wendy Rogers (Hernandez, “White Mountain Independent,” 5/24/22,, 12/07/22). Rogers hangs around with white nationalists. She claims to be a “charter member” of the Oath Keepers, a group prominently involved in the 1/06/2021 D.C. Capitol coup attempt. Rogers has promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and made anti-Semitic comments (Aleshire,, 10/22/22,, Baker, 12/21/10, MacDonald-Evoy, 3/02/23, Rogers supported the false claim that Trump won the election in both AZ and the U.S. (Waltz, A.,, 1/07/21). The AZ Senate censured Rogers for promoting social media messages that encouraged violence ( & Stern, 3/01/22). Before the 8/22/2022 primary, Crane promoted the false conspiracy theory that there was massive “voter fraud” in the 2020 U.S. presidential election. He called upon the AZ State Legislature to decertify Biden’s state victory (, 10/28/21, Rogers, Zanona, & Raju). Despite his extremist views, in the August, 2022 GOP primary, Crane defeated all his opponents, including a state representative (, 8/02/22). In the11/2022 general election, Crane ran against Dem. Cong. Tom O’Halleran. O’Halleran had previously represented the fairly evenly politically divided AZ 1st CD in which he had won election three times. In 2022, O’Halleran’s luck ran out. He was assigned by the Independent State Redistricting Commission to run in the newly reconfigured and heavily GOP 2nd CD against Crane. Despite good financial support and his incumbent name recognition, in this PVI R+6 “Red” district, newcomer GOPer Crane easily defeated Democrat O’Halleran by 7.8 percentage points, 53.9%- 46.1% (, 12/05/22).

From the get-go, Navy Seal Cong. Crane started making political “waves.” When the GOP narrowly took back the House in the 2022 midterm election, Crane was one of six GOPers to vote against supporting Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) for House Speaker on all the 15 ballots it took for him to win. On the final 15th round of voting, Crane voted “present (” Crane was the only newly elected Congressmember to vote against McCarthy. In 12/2022, before he was even sworn in to Congress, Crane received a call from his sponsor Donald telling him to vote for McCarthy (, Karni, 1/13/23). Crane, however, despite pressure from Donald and his fellow House GOPers, refused to change his stance. He told Donald, “Sir, I’m sorry, we love you out in Arizona, but I’ve been listening to my voters.” Crane had not made a promise to vote against McCarthy in the campaign as other right-wingers had done. He was not even the most far-right candidate in his primary. In his primary, he had defeated Ron Watkins, a conspiracy theorist suspected of being behind the QAnon theory (Karni, Crane stated, “I did not want to come up here and be a representative who heard what my voters said and came up here and caved to the pressure. I didn’t want anything, other than to do what I was sent here to do (, Karni, 1/13/23).” Crane credited his military background to his standing firm. His military training had taught him “to tough things out.” According to Crane, “I’ve been through a ton of very difficult situations, and I’m very grateful to those (Karni,, 1/13/23).” Crane felt his constituents viewed McCarthy as part of the establishment they had sent him to Washington to upend. Crane was not about to disappoint them in his first official act on Capitol Hill. Stephen Bannon, Trump’s former extremist adviser, is close to Crane. Bannon called Crane, “smart, tough, and lethal (Karni,, 1/13/23).”

Cong. Crane’s votes against McCarthy constituted a perilous position for a freshman legislator who harbors any ambition to serve on a powerful committee or play a major role in legislating. Cong. Crane knew that he could face retaliation from Speaker McCarthy for his votes against him. Crane had expressed interest in serving on the House Natural Resources, Homeland Security, and the Foreign Affairs Committee. Crane noted, “I expect it (punishment from Speaker McCarthy). We’ll see what happens. I might wind up in the broom closet (Karni,, 1/13/23).” In fact, Cong. Crane basically did wind up in the “broom closet.” Cong. Crane was put on Homeland Security. He did not, however, get positions on the Natural Resources Committee, a vital post in AZ, or on the powerhouse Foreign Affairs Committee. Besides Homeland Security, Cong. Crane sits on Small Business and Veterans’ Affairs where many lawmakers have similar backgrounds to his (See Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives).

Cong. Crane joined the House Freedom Caucus. This group is among the most conservative of House GOPers with several of its 49 members (22% of the House GOP conference) falling on the rightmost end of the political spectrum. Almost all of this group opposed certification of Biden’s electoral victory over Trump. We should not at all be surprised when Crane used the pejorative word “colored.” Freedom Caucus members are more likely to come from the South (32 of 49 members), still home to strong resistance to civil rights and voting rights and proud heirs to Nixon’s GOP Southern Strategy (See, 1/23/23). In the narrow 4-seat GOP House majority, Crane’s Freedom Caucus constitute GOP “kingmakers” in charting the House agenda. In the House, rookie Cong. Crane continues to be one “big time” GOP provocateur. He voted to censure Cong. Adam Schiff (D-CA) for his legitimate probes into Trump’s ties to Russia. This resolution passed the GOP House on a near party-line vote (, 6/21/23, Sprunt). When the Supreme Ct. overturned “Roe v. Wade,” Crane called the overturning of the right to choice in that 1973 opinion “a massive victory.” Cong. Crane continues to push for a nationwide ban on abortion (, 10/03/22). Cong. Crane has 100% scores from the right-wing FreedomWorks Koch Brothers-founded group as well as from the NRA, the National Rifle Association (Vote Smart,, Pilkington, E., 9/18/09 pre).

In his strong GOP congressional district, Cong. Crane can keep getting comfortably re-elected. However, remember, the GOP has just a 4-seat House majority. In 2024, if Democrats vote in droves plus to take back the House, Cong. Crane will just become what he clearly deserves to be-- an irrelevant back-bencher.


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