By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Eric Nicholson
The mudslinging charge comes from a campaign of attack ads on television that Broden mounted to take advantage of the scholarship scandal—a punch the Johnson camp surely deserved. The cozying charge has to do with his affinity for the Tea Party.
Broden, a 58-year-old pastor and former business executive with a master's degree in communications from the University of Michigan, doesn't dispute being cozy, only that there's something wrong with it. He welcomes the embrace of the Tea Party and returns it:
"They are heavily involved in helping me," he says in one of two interviews with the Dallas Observer. "I think the Tea Party is an incredible expression of our First Amendment right of freedom of speech, and I am proud to be associated with the Tea Party."
Last week a research group in Kansas City involved in monitoring far-right militia activity published a report alleging deep-running themes of racism, antisemitism and xenophobia in the Tea Party. In an introduction to the report, Benjamin Todd Jealous, president of the NAACP, said of the Tea Party, "While many of its leaders are motivated by common conservative budget and governance concerns, for too long they have tolerated others who espouse racism and xenophobia and, in some instances, are formally associated with organizations like the Council of Conservative Citizens—the direct lineal descendant of the White Citizens Council."
Broden doesn't buy it.
"I have spent a great deal of time with members of the Tea Party, and I have not seen that," he says. "I have not seen racism."
Instead, Broden says the Tea Party's values, like his own, are "based upon the founding principles and expressing what I believe is a stewardship responsibility to be engaged in the political process."
He has enthusiastically embraced and been embraced by Glenn Beck in his expression of opprobrium for the administration of the nation's first black president. On August 31, 2009, in the first of what since have become regular appearances by Broden on the Glenn Beck Program, Beck asked Broden: "Do you think I have it right that these are Marxist radicals that have positions of tremendous power? Is that right or wrong?"
"Oh, absolutely," Broden said. He went on to describe the regime in the White House as "an orchestrated attempt to radically change this country from what the founders had in mind...on the part of Marxists, socialists and atheists—I call them Darwin atheists—who are attempting to change this country, and the first step is the dispossession of our Judeo-Christian heritage."
Beck had invited him to appear on his show after seeing a tape of the North Richland Hills speech. Since that first appearance, Broden has appeared on the show, both by remote from Dallas and sitting at Beck's side in his Manhattan studio, almost always repeating the same mantra—that America must stop being politically correct and instead become "Biblically correct and constitutionally correct."
That kind of talk may play well on Fox TV, but what does it do for him back home?
In the 30th, after all, there is conservative, and then there is conservative.
No one is better connected to the old conservative leadership of the district, especially the African-American ministers, than William and Jordan Blair, father and son publishers of the weekly Elite News. William Blair, 89, in his youth a pitcher in the Negro League, keeps a picture on the wall above his desk of himself shoulder-to-shoulder with the late S.M. Wright, a famous early power-broker in black Dallas. To people who know old black Dallas, that faded photo is worth a million words, and Stephen Broden isn't one of them.
"I never heard of the man," Blair says dismissively of Broden, "until he ran for this office."
Sitting at his side, Jordan Blair, his son, says, "And I don't think he's truly conservative. I think it's just the flavor of the month."
Betty Culbreath—former director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, a member of the DFW Airport Board, former chair of the Dallas Plan Commission—says of Broden, "The man must be a Martian. I never heard of him before."
Broden is not from Mars, but he does come from Michigan, which is right next door. His parents grew up in Dallas but moved to Flint, a rough and raw factory town, to work in the auto industry after World War II.
Broden entered the University of Michigan in 1971, a year after black students calling themselves the Black Action Movement (BAM) used sometimes violent protests and strikes to persuade regents of the university to increase black enrollment.
"If BAM hadn't happened," he says now, "I wouldn't have had a chance to go to the University of Michigan. That's just the honest truth."
He completed a B.A. and then an M.A. at Ann Arbor. In 1977, Broden moved to Dallas with his wife, a college sweetheart, to take a management job with ARCO, a gasoline company for whom he established and oversaw car-wash businesses.
Soon after moving to Dallas, Broden met Ford Madison, a white real estate developer who had been active in inner city outreach through World Impact, a Christian ministry born of the 1965 Watts riot in Los Angeles. Madison, now retired and living in Bryan, was a first-hand witness to Broden's religious awakening.