But, nine days later, the inimitable Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away, and people began to reassess all the races, to think that they all might be in play. So the money is now beginning to flow, a reversal for which Espy says he’s grateful. As he told me, “they ignore you until you can prove your own viability,” much like Barack Obama proved by winning Iowa in 2008.
As Espy put it, the Democrats have a “legacy of disinvestment” in the South, and I believe that is largely because they have written it off as red. That is a mistake. As Espy put it, “If 20 years ago and 10 years ago, there had been three, five, 10 million dollars coming into Mississippi in the off years to eliminate purging, to register, to do all the work that I had to do in 2018, to build a bridge that candidates can cross over it, including my campaign in 2020, we would be way ahead of where we are now.”
We are in the homestretch, but Espy has a real chance. One recent poll showed him trailing Hyde-Smith by only one percentage point, and Espy says that his campaign has been raising an average of $156,000 a day since Justice Ginsburg died.
There are other recent events also putting wind into Espy’s sails: The public outcry and conversations about racism following the killing of George Floyd, the Mississippi Legislature voting to remove the Confederate battle emblem from the state flag, and Joe Biden’s choosing of Kamala Harris as his running mate. These are all things Espy believes will increase Black voter turnout and woo some desperately needed white support. Tuesday night at the presidential debate, Donald Trump refused to condemn white supremacy, which is also likely to enrage and energize Black voters.
Espy believes that if he can just slightly increase his support from Black and white voters, he can win. More important, Espy says, “We need Black voters to show up. If Black voters show up, we’ll win.”
“There were 100,000 Black voters in 2008 that showed up for Barack Obama. They did not vote for Hillary in ’16, or Mike Espy in ’18, or Jim Hood in ’19. But, now the difference is, Charles, we know who they are. We’ve got their contact numbers. We’re peer-to-peer texting. And, I’m about to put on my gloves and mask and go knock on their doors and say, ‘Brother, sister, what’s the problem? Don’t you believe that who you put in office impacts you life and your career? What’s the problem?’”
Espy shouldn’t be alone in this. If the Democratic Party — the party that claims to prize and value Black support, and that cynically uses Black voters as a firewall when it can’t convince white voters — doesn’t show up for Mike Espy and help him get those 100,000 missing Black voters to the polls, it will be a great shame on them, and it will not be forgotten.
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