BY FREDDIE ALLEN
NNPA NEWS SERVICE
WASHINGTON – If the Democrats lose the United States Senate and more seats in the House of Representatives in the upcoming midterm elections, Marcia Fudge, chair of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), said that the Republicans would impeach President Barack Obama.
Even though he won’t be on the ballot in November, the CBC hopes to use the Republican threat of impeachment and other personal and political attacks on Obama to fuel Black voter turnout for the 2014 midterm elections.
Fudge said that if Republicans win the Senate they would continue to challenge the president’s legitimacy by threatening him with lawsuits, questioning his birthplace and intelligence, and accusing him of violating the Constitution.
“We’re going to have two more years of that foolishness, if they take over the Senate and win more seats in the House,” said Fudge. “They will make our lives miserable for the next two years.”
Lorenzo Morris, political science professor at Howard University in Washington, D.C., noted that the focus on the threat to voters’ rights through stricter ID requirements, redistricting and plans to reduce early voting in some states, motivated minority voters and saved Obama during the 2012 election.
“African-Americans, as well as, Latino and even Asian voters were mobilized by the sense that the Republican Party was trying to disenfranchise them,” said Morris.
Fudge said that Republicans would not only continue attacks on Obama but also continue efforts to make changes to entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicaid and food stamps that would disproportionately hurt Blacks.
During a recent press conference at the Democratic National Committee (DNC) Headquarters, Fudge, joined by Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-Mo.) and Donna Brazile, vice chair of Voter Registration and Participation for the DNC, announced a national partnership with Black churches designed to rally Black voters and increase civic engagement.
Fudge said that by collaborating with thousands of churches across the country, the “Freedom Sunday” campaign hoped to reach 12 million people before the November elections.
Morris said that the strategy that the CBC is undertaking is important because churches have the capacity to mobilize voters independent of individual candidates.
“While we know that voter turnout significantly decreases during midterm elections we also know that there is an opportunity to ensure that African-American voters and particularly those where we have highly-contested Senate races know what is at stake in this election,” said Fudge.
Targeting key races
During the 2010 midterm elections, Black voter turnout was 44 percent, compared to White voter turnout, which was 49 percent, according to the U.S. 2010 Current Population Survey. During the 2012 elections, Black voter turnout eclipsed White voter turnout by more than 2 percent.
The CBC also plans to target 19 key district and House races where they believe Black voters can make a difference in California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Nevada, New York, Arkansas, Colorado, New Jersey, Nebraska and Virginia.
“The African-American vote is crucial for Democratic successes all across the country,” said Brazile.
“The Democratic National Committee has launched the most aggressive voter expansion program, and not just in the 19 targeted congressional districts where the African-American vote will make the difference, in terms of winning or losing, but also in eight Senate races.”
Brazile continued: “This is not just a campaign to say, ‘go out and vote.’ We’re talking about crucial issues like raising the minimum wage, preventing gun violence, making education more affordable and protecting voting rights.”
A tough battle
She said that during the last election cycle, candidates or incumbents won in 65 districts by less than 1 percent.
“By just increasing Black [voter] turnout, Latino and youth [voter] turnout, which also drops off in non-presidential years, we know that it can make a difference in this election,” said Brazile. “If it’s close, we can push somebody over the top.”
In states like Louisiana, where the Black population is more than 30 percent, Fudge said, Blacks can clearly tip the scales in close races.
“So we’re going to be spending a lot of time in Louisiana,” added Fudge.
But Morris noted that many of the state Democratic candidates who are running neck-and-neck with challengers have distanced themselves from President Obama and his sagging approval ratings.
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-La.) who faces a tough battle in Louisiana, publicly criticized Obama in the wake of the Affordable Care Act rollout last year and Senator Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) said that the president had not “done enough to earn the lasting trust of our veterans and implement real and permanent reforms” in the wake of the Veteran Affairs scandal that forced resignation of then-Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki.
Morris said that a big loss in November for the Democrats would make it harder for Obama to leave any kind of lasting, progressive legacy of agenda items on the table on his way out in 2016.
He said, “This [midterm] election can be a real cliffhanger and all it will take is for African-Americans to be mobilized to make a difference.”
Freddie Allen is a senior Washington correspondent for NNPA.