Black Votes Matter PAC Launched to Maximize Black Voter Turnout in Key Battleground States
Concerned that there may be dramatic drop off in the record turnout of Black voters that propelled Barack Obama to the presidency, a group of veteran New York political and civil rights operatives launched Black Votes Matter PAC in an effort to maximize Black voter turnout and candidate attention to issues critical to Black communities and families in the battleground states of Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia. Drop off in Black voter turnout in those states will put in jeopardy policies important to the Black community and result in the election of a president and other elected officials antithetical to the interests of Black Americans.
“Yes, there is a lot of anger and discontent around how Black people are represented in Washington, but activism and progress mean nothing without political mobilization,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said. “Black Votes Matter is a chance to take the dissatisfaction with the state of affairs in Washington and turn it into something that lasts. When we as Black people speak, candidates now have to listen.”
“President Barack Obama brought nearly 4 million new Black voters out to vote since 2008, and they have made a difference in local, state and national elections,” said Rachel Noerdlinger, spokesperson for BVM PAC. “If these voters stay home in November, a candidate who does not care about the issues important to Black Americans stands a good chance of being elected.”
BVM PAC will be run by Charlie King, who ran the New York State Democratic Party for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and headed up the re-election effort of Rep. Charlie Rangel. He also has been a key adviser to Sharpton.
“Many of the issues that Governor Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Heastie are fighting for here in New York are the issues that matter in Black communities across the country: a special prosecutor when police kill an unarmed individual; criminal justice reform; $15 minimum wage; real growth opportunities for Black-owned businesses; meaningful education initiatives and paid family leave,” King said. “We will keep these issues on the front burner and make sure the candidates do, too.”
Another senior adviser to the effort is Patrick Jenkins, a key adviser to Heastie, former aide to Rep. Gregory Meeks and a senior staff member to Cuomo’s 2010 election campaign, and Kristie Stiles, a veteran national fundraiser who ran Gov. David Paterson’s efforts and has served as a consultant to Rangel, the DCCC and House Majority PAC.
“In a crucial election like 2016, it takes a multi-pronged approach to make sure Black voters not only turn out in numbers, but also see their issues represented in the White House” said Marc Morial, president of the Urban League. “That takes voter education, fundraising and activism across the nation. I’m proud to support a committee like Black Votes Matter that’s committed to all of these goals.”
”High incarceration rate, high employment rates, racial profiling—the list goes on and on. Young Black men and women want their voices heard on these issues, but not just when a candidate visits a battleground state,” nationally recognized activist Tamika Mallory said. “Black Votes Matter is here to make sure the problems that affect us—young Black people—stay in the news past the caucuses and primaries.”
“Black Votes Matter is vital to sustain the discussion of how to achieve a living wage and good paying jobs for Black Americans throughout the 2016 election cycle, said Stuart Appelbaum, President of RWDSU, “And the size of the Black vote can be the difference between continued progress or a retreat to darker days in America’s past.”
“We can with our votes determine America’s future,” said Local 237 Teamsters President and Black Votes Matter supporter Gregory Floyd, “It’s up to us.”