Black activists warn Biden: Don't pick Klobuchar as VP

From WWW.POLITICO.COM

The Minnesota senator and former prosecutor has problems with communities of colors that another top white contender, Elizabeth Warren, does not.

Amy Klobuchar performed abysmally among black voters in the Democratic primary. It’s haunting her now as Joe Biden decides on a running mate.

The Minnesota Democrat has the governing experience and ideological profile to mesh well with Biden, and she’s regularly appeared as a surrogate and a fundraiser for him, raking in more than $1.5 million for a single event she headlined. The pair have a warm relationship, trading phone calls when her husband was hospitalized with Covid-19 and they didn’t tangle publicly during primary.

But more than a dozen black and Latino strategists and activists warned in interviews that selecting Klobuchar would not help Biden excite black voters — and might have the opposite effect. Klobuchar would “risk losing the very base the Democrats need to win,” said Aimee Allison, founder of She the People, which promotes women of color in politics. They pointed to her poor performance among non-white voters during the presidential primary, as well as her record as a prosecutor in Minnesota.

It’s not yet clear how much the opposition of activists matters to Biden. He's made clear that the electoral politics of his pick matter less than choosing someone who can be a governing partner and step into the top job without worry.

But the vocal contingent of African American and Latino detractors — many of whom said they would prefer Biden to select a black woman as a running mate — is unique to Klobuchar; Elizabeth Warren, another top contender for VP, doesn’t elicit similar antagonism from communities of color.

"It comes from her performance in the primary — her weakness in being able to motivate them," said Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of BlackPAC, who supports several potential vice presidential selections. “The engagement and the enthusiasm of black voters is going to be a difference-maker in this election, and the concerns about her in this role stem from the degree to which she resonated or not with those core constituencies.”

Earlier this week, Biden confirmed that "multiple black women [are] being considered" for vice president. Those often named include Sen. Kamala Harris, former Georgia gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams and Florida Rep. Val Demings. Other Midwestern options, like Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, have also been mentioned.

But for many of these operatives, Klobuchar symbolizes a strategic division within the Democratic Party: Whether to focus on winning back white, Midwestern voters who flipped to Donald Trump in 2016, or on activating voters of color who were not excited to vote. She “represents that tension,” said Rev. Al Sharpton, who said he’s told Biden that he would prefer a black woman on the ticket but noted he’s “not anti-Amy.”

“It is not her fault, but she is in the middle of an ongoing battle from the last few presidential races,” Sharpton continued, adding he would be “concerned” that selecting Klobuchar would not help energize black and brown voters.

In a Washington Post op-ed this month urging Biden to select a woman of color as VP, seven black strategists and activists called out Klobuchar, warning she would “only alienate black voters.”

"Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, does not need help winning white, working-class voters — he serves that function himself," they wrote. Referring to her record as a chief prosecutor in Minneapolis, they added, "A choice such as Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), who failed to prosecute controversial police killings and is responsible for the imprisonment of Myon Burrell, will only alienate black voters."

“If it was important enough to raise in an op-ed, it speaks to how serious we are,” LaTosha Brown, a co-founder of Black Voters Matter and the lead op-ed author, said in an interview. “Her campaign appeal was about bringing in working class, white people from the Midwest, and perhaps that’s true, but that’s a particular strategy that doesn’t align with what it’s going to take to win. You need to excite the base.”

Angela Rye, a Demo... (Read more)

Submitted 13 days ago


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