Stephen Montemayor, Star Tribune, November 23, 2019
The fifth Democratic presidential debate on Wednesday put at least one pivotal 2020 factor into stark relief: the power of black voters in deciding the party’s nominee.
Chief among those with work to do is U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., whose past as a prosecutor has hindered more than helped her cause among black voters, who often see the criminal justice system stacked against them.
Last week, voters caught a glimpse of at least one Klobuchar strategy to make inroads in the black community: a focus on voting rights. At the Atlanta debate, Klobuchar repeated her call for people to automatically register to vote when they turn 18.
“If we had a system like this and we did something about gerrymandering, and we stopped the voting purges, and did something significant about making sure we don’t have money in politics from the outside, Stacey Abrams would be governor of this state right now,” Klobuchar said.
To be sure, Klobuchar is not alone struggling to win support among black voters.
Despite high levels of support among black voters, Joe Biden still faces questions over his support for the 1994 federal crime bill. Pete Buttigieg has been dogged by tense police-community relations during his tenure as mayor. Elizabeth Warren had to wait out demonstrations by dozens of black protesters from a school-choice group before delivering a post-debate speech in Atlanta, where she called for a “full-blown national conversation about reparations” for slavery.