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Allen West, one of two Black Republicans just elected to House, goes Against Grain

By Krissah Thompson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 24, 2010; 12:42 AM

Allen West, a 22-year Army veteran, is preparing for Washington a bit like he would for a battlefield. His "high and tight" hairstyle will be one of the only buzz cuts in Congress. He plans to carry a camouflage bag, not a briefcase.

And on a recent morning, while others in the Republican Party's large incoming freshman class jockeyed for office space, he declared himself largely indifferent.

"I've lived in tents," said West, who in January will become the first black Republican to represent Florida since 1876.

Since its last black lawmaker retired from the House in 2003, the GOP has been eager to elect high-profile African Americans. The party's desire to demonstrate inclusiveness has been especially pressing since the election of Barack Obama and the rise of the predominantly white tea party movement.

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