MILWAUKEE (AP) — Standing by the pulpit of King Solomon Mission Baptist Church on a crisp fall Sunday morning, Democratic US Senate candidate Mandela Burns preaches to the choir.
“This community will always be my number one priority,” he says, pointing to issues he knows they care about: crime, jobs, inflation. reassured the congregation of
This is a classic strategy for Democrats who want to win in battleground Wisconsin. Go to Milwaukee, speak at a black church, and take pictures with churchgoers. And it’s a segment of the electorate that will be particularly fertile ground for Barnes, who grew up in Milwaukee’s mostly black north side and entered politics there first as an organizer and later as a state representative.
Lt. Gov. Burns is on the verge of becoming Wisconsin’s first black senator, but whether he can compete with two-term Senator Ron Johnson will be a question of how well he will perform with voters who don’t always have the majority of the vote. It may depend on how well it connects.
Rev. Greg Lewis, an influential organizer in Milwaukee’s black community, said in an interview, “Our white population is split into the middle class, and minority voters will make the decisions.” Anyone who does will win.”
Burns knows most of King Solomon is already in his corner, and some have already voted early for him. It’s not the older, religious black voters he needs to worry about mobilizing. It is the nieces, nephews, children and grandchildren of these congregations that community organizers describe as a disaffected and indifferent generation.
“I’m asking them to help me talk to other people – friends, family, neighbors. If I can get five to 10 of each, I can win,” Barnes told the congregation.
For Barnes, who is one of a handful of constituencies that could transfer control of the Senate and polls show Johnson just a little behind, that means connecting with people like Joe Louis Gordon II. I mean
Gordon, 32, met Barnes at a campaign event for black maternal health in mid-October. When his girlfriend, Makoria Morrow, joined the discussion, Gordon sat down with his two-and-a-half-month-old daughter and said he “didn’t know much” about Barnes. He said he hadn’t voted since Barack Obama ran for president.
“Like everyone else in the community, we don’t care about voting, racing, etc., because it feels like we’re not being heard anyway.
After meeting Burns in person, Gordon said he was going to vote for him.
“I came to see him and saw that he was actually a real human being and felt something different. He’s just like us. He could be my next-door neighbor.” ‘ said Gordon.
In the two weeks leading up to Election Day, Burns’ campaign will double down on reaching out to young Black voters by holding events at Black student unions and elsewhere in the community. She’s also invested millions of dollars in reaching young voters of color on her streaming platforms like YouTube and Spotify. Obama himself will be in town on Saturday for a rally at Northern Milwaukee High School, part of the National Names Parade he visited to support Burns.
“Mandela has run an aggressive campaign schedule to connect with black voters in Milwaukee, and he will continue to do so through Election Day and beyond,” said Maddie Mak, campaign spokesperson for Burns. Daniel said.
Republicans don’t allow voting. They opened their first office downtown in the city in 2020 in hopes of drawing away some of the Democratic Party’s most loyal supporters. Nine out of 10 black voters nationwide supported Joe Biden in 2020, according to the AP VoteCast, a popular survey.
For Michelle Wilkins, a 27-year-old doula who participated in the maternal health debate Gordon participated in, the election was the first time in a long time that she felt her vote could make a difference. Barnes’ strong support for the charity resonated with her, she said.
“We need people to fight for African Americans, and not just people, but women too, especially in the Roe vs. Wade situation,” she said.
Older black voters, like King Solomon’s aunts and grandmothers, said they intended to pressure their families to vote. He said of the victims he called:
Rep. Gwen Moore, who is black and represents most of the city of Milwaukee, said major current issues such as the pandemic, inflation and rising crime are stressing many black families, putting them on the back burner. I’m worried about
“Worrying about survival can make voting less of a priority,” she said.
Harm Venhuizen is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places journalists in local newsrooms to cover hidden issues.Follow Wenhuizen twitter.
Follow AP for full coverage of the midterm elections at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter. https://twitter.com/ap_politics
Check out https://apnews.com/hub/explaining-the-elections to learn more about the issues and factors in the midterm elections.