Sen. Claire McCaskill is facing a resistance from the black community in her 2018 reelection quest that she did not face in 2012.
One major reason for the resistance is obvious, namely that Barack Obama is not on this year’s ballot. If black voters are going to come to the polls in November, McCaskill is being told, she has to give them a reason.
At a town hall and voter empowerment meeting in February, State Rep. Bruce Franks Jr. (D-St. Louis) first hinted at the resistance to come. At one point in the meeting a white, middle-aged woman challenged Franks, who is black, on the need to support McCaskill.
When the questioner said it would be a “potential tragedy” if McCaskill were to lose, Franks said many of his constituents would not see it that way. “They’re telling us,” he said, “that we can lose a senator that we never knew existed because this person hasn’t shown up in our community. This person hasn’t spoken to our needs.”
To much applause, Franks said, “Claire is going to have to bring her ass to St. Louis. Period. She’s going to have to show up, and it’s not just about talking.” A black woman in the crowd echoed Franks’s point, “She has got to earn the vote. And being MIA won’t get her mine. And just don’t show up when it’s election time.”
Closer to home, Sharon Sanders Brooks, a former Kansas City councilwoman and state rep, was even more blunt. “African-American VOTERS will NO longer allow the Democratic party to Pimp The Black VOTE,” wrote Brooks. “Treating US like Side Pieces, sliding into the Black community once a year and on Election Years give us a peck on the cheek and a pat on the head and then you’re gone. Where is the year round Constituent Engagement? Your local staff is doing you a great disservice.”
Even the Kansas City Star has begun to notice. The headline of a lengthy article Wednesday spoke to the problem ahead for McCaskill: “McCaskill asked black leaders to push back on criticism of her campaign. No one would.”
Rep. Emanuel Cleaver was a bit more upbeat. Said he, “The relationship is not broken. It is bent somewhat, but I think if she works hard to reconnect she’ll be able to win.” McCaskill will be challenged to win even with black support. If the resistance continues, she’s finished.