Saturday, October 09, 2010
Reigniting the passion of African American voters is key to Democrats' hopes - WPHL
Black turnout will play a crucial role as political momentum has shifted from the 'Yes We Can' crowd to the 'tea party' movement. In North Carolina, one moderate congressman tries to rally support.
By Richard Fausset, Los Angeles Times
Two years ago, Rep. Larry Kissell, a moderate freshman Democrat, was among a number of congressmen who received a boost from voters, particularly African Americans who turned out to make history and elect the first black president. This year, in a district that is 28% black, Kissell is challenged with reigniting those passions — when failure to do so could help tip Congress into Republican hands.
In this struggling textile town, conversations with black voters demonstrated how difficult Kissell's job may be. Yarn mill worker Ray Ellison, 55, voted for Barack Obama in 2008 — when a record 61% of voting-age African Americans went to the polls — but didn't know if he'd be voting again this November.
Ellison said he had missed a number of elections when the presidency wasn't at stake. "I really have to be pushed to vote," he said.
Barber John McPhatter, 48, said he'd probably vote this time around. But he was less than enthusiastic about Kissell after the congressman voted against the president's signature healthcare overhaul legislation.
"I may just close my eyes and pull the lever for him, even though I know about the things he's done," he said.
Energizing black voters for midterm elections has always been a challenge for Democrats. This fall the Democratic National Committee plans to spend more than $2 million in outreach ads and direct mail to black voters, more than 10 times the amount spent in 2006, said Derrick Plummer, who heads up African American affairs for the DNC.
There is at much at stake in this election as there was in the election of 2008, if not more. A loss of the House of Representatives would be a catastrophic event for the economic prospects of poor, blue collar and lower middle class Americans. African Americans are largely a part of these groups. African American voter turnout can make the difference in who controls congress for the next two tears. Everyone, black, white, yellow, red or green. Please vote on november 2, 2010.
John H. Armwood