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Democrats focus on mobilizing black voters to turn Ohio blue

Democrats are targeting black voters in the battleground state of Ohio as key to victory in a state they los...

Posted: Sep 17, 2018 10:07 AM
Updated: Sep 17, 2018 10:07 AM

Democrats are targeting black voters in the battleground state of Ohio as key to victory in a state they lost to President Donald Trump in 2016.

The months-long effort was highlighted when former President Barack Obama made a stop in Cleveland last week to campaign for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Richard Cordray, where he delivered a plea for voters to turnout on Election Day. In addition to the governor's race, Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown is running for re-election and there are competitive congressional races that could be key to determining which party controls the House.

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"The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference," Obama told a packed gymnasium. "The biggest threat to our democracy is where you just turn away from politics and you stay home on Election Day."

Before Trump's victory in 2016, Obama carried the state with 97% of the black vote in 2008 and 96% in 2012, according to exit polls. Hillary Clinton lost the state with 88% of the black vote. A major question going forward for Democrats is whether they can count on the support of black voters who turned out in a historic way to vote for the country's first black president.

And particularly in Ohio, where the Democrats running for governor and US Senate are white men, November's election will be a test for the party as to what type of candidates, message and efforts can appeal to the black community.

Ohio Democrats are taking lessons from last year's Alabama Senate race, where long-shot former Democratic prosecutor Doug Jones upset Republican Roy Moore with the support of black voters.

"We learned from the Doug Jones special election that local community members are the best validators," said Democratic party official Ron McGuire, who held roundtables across Ohio in January to hear from black voters.

A former deputy district director for US Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Ohio, McGuire said voters felt excluded from the process.

"They weren't getting information from the state party as they would like to," he said. "They didn't feel like they were a part of it. Nobody knew what they were supposed to do or how they could help."

Meredith Turner, an Ohio Democratic consultant tasked with party outreach to churches, said in the past Democrats haven't hired partners who reflected the community they represented. "There was a detachment," Turner told CNN. "If you can't relate to people it might be hard to get them motivated and encouraged to come out and participate."

In response, the party created the Minority Engagement Program, led by McGuire and consultants from local communities, to inform voters about upcoming elections and facilitate increased voter registration, all in an effort to get them to the polls.

"I got faith leaders, business owners, I have an attorney, I got former elected officials and I got community leaders to help us lead these efforts in our major communities throughout Ohio," McGuire told CNN.

Kim Thomas, owner of Christopher Amira Studio in Cleveland, joined the program in June, drafting other local Cuyahoga County barbershops and salons to stock campaign pamphlets and host candidate meet and greets for prospective voters.

"The only way this whole thing is going to change is if we get everyone involved," Thomas said. "That's the most important thing that I can say we are working on, just making sure we work collectively and bring everyone together so we can create this blue wave. The blue wave is not going to happen unless we come together."

Republicans in Ohio say they plan to make a play for traditionally Democratic and swing voters across Ohio.

"I do believe Democrats continue to take some historically blue communities for granted," Ohio Republican Communications Director Blaine Kelly told CNN. "These voters have found a new home in the Republican Party."

Ohio GOP Chair Jane Timken told reporters Thursday, "When I first became chairman, I started an initiative where I just would go to urban areas like Cincinnati and Cleveland and have listening sessions with African-American business owners and others who were interested in hearing our message. And my message back to them was, you care about your communities, you care about your families, we welcome you into the Republican party and want to be a part of that care and concern for your communities and your families in Ohio."

Democratic state Rep. Stephanie Howse, who spoke ahead of Obama at Thursday's rally, said she hopes the former president's visit will get voters excited about campaigning for Democratic candidates up and down the ballot not just in 2018, but also moving forward.

"Democrats are not successful without a strong black community turnout. Those are facts," Howse told CNN. "We don't have any votes to lose. We've had elections, we have new people in office winning by eight votes, 13 votes. So you have to remind people when you talk about every election is important, every election is important, and the voice specifically of black people."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 295295

Reported Deaths: 6724
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19672230
Hinds18799386
Harrison16710278
Rankin12685264
Jackson12592226
Lee9687160
Madison9457199
Jones7962146
Forrest7208136
Lauderdale6833226
Lowndes6022137
Lamar588080
Lafayette5733113
Washington5218130
Bolivar4609123
Oktibbeha441393
Panola430394
Pearl River4167130
Warren4129114
Pontotoc408869
Marshall403192
Monroe3989126
Union395374
Neshoba3807168
Lincoln3541102
Hancock347374
Leflore3375118
Sunflower318386
Tate302474
Pike300195
Scott293870
Alcorn291861
Itawamba289975
Yazoo289262
Tippah278765
Copiah277857
Coahoma277568
Simpson274878
Prentiss269758
Wayne253841
Marion252678
Leake252471
Covington248879
Grenada247377
Adams234377
George231745
Newton229652
Winston221675
Jasper213445
Tishomingo212365
Attala206569
Chickasaw201151
Holmes182270
Clay179150
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170539
Clarke169371
Calhoun157828
Smith152731
Yalobusha144836
Greene127633
Walthall124140
Noxubee122829
Montgomery122438
Perry121634
Lawrence120321
Carroll118225
Amite111533
Webster110630
Jefferson Davis101731
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93324
Humphreys92827
Kemper90223
Quitman77114
Franklin76119
Choctaw69516
Jefferson62527
Wilkinson62426
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 493769

Reported Deaths: 9931
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson710731374
Mobile36139727
Madison32425455
Tuscaloosa24184410
Montgomery22586500
Shelby21968215
Baldwin19758283
Lee14967153
Morgan13667251
Calhoun13300286
Etowah13184319
Marshall11262209
Houston10104261
Elmore9385185
Limestone9363134
Cullman8897181
St. Clair8827223
Lauderdale8607211
DeKalb8459175
Talladega7523163
Walker6524255
Jackson6495102
Autauga627091
Blount6102127
Colbert6004118
Coffee5249102
Dale4642107
Russell404930
Franklin399177
Covington3960106
Chilton3876100
Escambia377672
Tallapoosa3588142
Clarke343650
Chambers3413110
Dallas3403141
Pike293472
Lawrence283484
Marion281995
Winston246867
Bibb245060
Geneva239970
Marengo236455
Pickens224654
Barbour211651
Hale210568
Fayette200756
Butler196866
Henry182441
Cherokee177038
Monroe166139
Randolph163740
Washington156535
Crenshaw144854
Clay144454
Macon142043
Cleburne137839
Lamar132833
Lowndes131151
Wilcox121825
Bullock116936
Conecuh106724
Perry105627
Sumter98531
Coosa88923
Greene88232
Choctaw55123
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