Fight for Black voters in US Senate race intensifies in Pa.

BY NATASHA BROWN | Originally posted on October 17, 2022, to CBS PHILADELPHIA HERE (includes video).

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The midterm elections are just 22 days away and the fight for Black and Brown voters intensifies in a close Pennsylvania U.S. Senate race. Black voters throughout the commonwealth are at the center of an increasingly competitive race.

“In every federal election, there’s a lot of attention on Philadelphia,” Committee of Seventy President Al Schmidt said. “We’re the biggest county in the biggest swing state in America and who our voters vote for will likely decide which party controls the United States Senate.”

The eyes of the nation will once again be focusing on Pennsylvania, as the balance of power in the Senate hangs in the balance.

With just three weeks until the midterm election, Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman and his Republican opponent Dr. Mehmet Oz are saturating the airwaves with campaign ads and crisscrossing the commonwealth with rallies.

Both candidates fighting for Black and Brown voters in a close Senate race.

“In Philadelphia, in particular, Black and Brown voter turnout has a real impact on election outcomes,” Schmidt said. “We’ve seen in the past the impact that Black and Brown voter turnout can have in a swaying election one way or another, whether it’s high turnout or low turnout, and regardless of how voters vote, it’s not something to be ignored.”

The Committee of Seventy is a Philadelphia organization that has been around for nearly 100 years, working to improve access and integrity of elections.

With the Pennsylvania governor’s seat also up for grabs, the Philadelphia branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is also working to educate and get out the vote in minority communities.

“I chair the political action committee, which is my job to make sure we are educating Black and Brown voters across the city about the importance of elections,” Abu Edwards said. “We’re doing voter registration drives, we’re doing mobilization events and engagement.”

NAACP leaders say political candidates need to be addressing issues that will drive Black and Brown voters to the polls.

“Right now it’s a few,” Edwards said. “Voting rights, gun violence, housing, abortion. These are issues that people are really looking at.

According to Pew research data from 2020, 11% of eligible voters in Pennsylvania are Black and 6% are Latino. Their research also shows that nationally, Black eligible voters stand out for their relatively high voter turnout rates — 51% in 2018. That’s higher than the turnout rates for Latino and Asian voters in that same year.

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