By Cassandra Lans
With the November 2, general election less than two weeks away, it is more than evident that Wisconsin Republican candidates are not interested in receiving the African American vote. The two standouts Scott Walker and Ron Johnson are in the most competitive races, the race for governor and the race for U.S. Senate, and have yet to engage the African American community.
Neither of the candidates’ platforms addresses the needs or concerns for Blacks in Wisconsin. It is as if these candidates are so comfortable in their assumption of a win without engaging this community, that neither bother to participate in community forums, Black radio programming, nor Black newspapers with editorial participation or spending advertising dollars.
Walker referenced himself in comparison to former Governor Tommy Thompson (R), during his second debate with Mayor Tom Barrett numerous times during the debate exchange. His references attempted to suggest that he would be that type of Governor for Wisconsin. Walker needs to remember, that when Thompson sought the position of governor for the State of Wisconsin, he did engage the cultural diversity of the entire community, White, Black, Latin and others. He participated through the Black and Spanish media with editorial and advertising, he met with the ministers and various leaders in the community, and he didn’t duck community forums. His administration was not a complete satisfaction for minorities, yet the attempt to engage our community was made. Walker and Johnson’s lack of engagement should set off alarms that the minority communities are not on the minds of these two candidates.
Nationally much is being said about low voter turnout for midterm elections, and minority communities are being written off as a loss. The assumption is that Black and Latino voters are going to stay home and not vote. Forget the fact that during the presidential election the turnout vote of Black women was at a historical high, and Latinos voted in record numbers as well.
Two other republican candidates, Steven Duckhorn who is challenging Sheriff David Clarke (D) and Dan Sebring who is challenging Congresswoman Gwen Moore for the 4th Congressional District have at least shown some community engagement. Sebring was a guest on the WMCS 1290 Eric Von radio program this week, and both are scheduled to participate in the October 23 Community Brainstorming Conference being held at St. Matthew C.M.E. Church.
The Community Brainstorming Conference is a must in the community for any candidate that is interested in participating and engaging the African American community in Milwaukee. The purpose of the Saturday forum is to provide a platform for inter action between policymakers and the community. The forum affords an opportunity for the community to express its needs and expectations from a community perspective.
Mayor Tom Barrett and Senator Russ Feingold are also scheduled to participate in interthis Saturday’s forum, Scott Walker and Ron Johnson are not. Once again, another dismissal of seeking the African American voter from these two candidates.