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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: 473413

Reported Deaths: 9214
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison32339474
Hinds30703575
DeSoto29814346
Jackson23263336
Rankin21111358
Lee14600217
Madison14043265
Jones13165218
Forrest12953233
Lauderdale11418297
Lowndes10249175
Lamar10048128
Pearl River8737209
Lafayette8078136
Hancock7324111
Washington6837147
Oktibbeha6820118
Neshoba6404201
Monroe6372158
Warren6326161
Pontotoc610393
Panola6071124
Bolivar6016143
Marshall5972118
Union564086
Pike5491133
Lincoln5232130
Alcorn520888
George457868
Scott451993
Leflore4401140
Prentiss437276
Itawamba436198
Tippah436180
Simpson4268111
Copiah425586
Wayne424863
Tate4234100
Adams4219114
Yazoo415886
Sunflower4088104
Covington407391
Marion4032100
Leake393185
Coahoma388198
Newton364474
Grenada3517101
Stone345657
Tishomingo324888
Attala321185
Jasper310262
Winston300391
Clay288273
Chickasaw282164
Clarke277487
Calhoun259739
Holmes259485
Smith243947
Yalobusha216747
Tallahatchie215649
Walthall205557
Greene204045
Lawrence203831
Perry196453
Amite193751
Webster191941
Noxubee174538
Montgomery169853
Jefferson Davis165541
Carroll159937
Tunica148434
Benton139433
Kemper137439
Claiborne125634
Choctaw124925
Humphreys123337
Franklin115227
Quitman101825
Wilkinson99835
Jefferson86632
Sharkey62120
Issaquena1916
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 768301

Reported Deaths: 13209
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1093481727
Mobile699891179
Madison48418589
Baldwin35707452
Shelby35193291
Tuscaloosa33029512
Montgomery32582664
Lee21908204
Calhoun20140377
Morgan19351318
Etowah18583433
Marshall17272259
Houston16139353
St. Clair14956276
Limestone14129180
Cullman14069235
Elmore14010245
Lauderdale13128272
Talladega12399215
DeKalb11890229
Walker10231312
Autauga9493127
Blount9418149
Jackson9115136
Coffee8646161
Colbert8324169
Dale8284159
Escambia6456106
Tallapoosa6394168
Covington6313157
Chilton6243133
Russell591654
Franklin563597
Chambers5240132
Marion4628115
Dallas4626178
Clarke451471
Pike450091
Geneva4252106
Winston407987
Lawrence4046102
Bibb396177
Barbour338968
Marengo320981
Monroe311547
Butler309783
Pickens298769
Randolph294055
Henry293856
Hale286081
Cherokee279850
Fayette272271
Washington243545
Crenshaw232265
Clay221561
Macon214454
Cleburne209748
Lamar187839
Conecuh177139
Lowndes169056
Coosa163631
Wilcox154335
Bullock147142
Perry134235
Sumter123335
Greene119241
Choctaw72325
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Occasional areas of rain and some scattered thunderstorms will be in store for most of the weekend. However, good news by later sections of next week, as cooler and drier air will work its way into our weather forecast.
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