Black vote seen as crucial in SC Dem Feb. 3rd primary - - Columbia, South Carolina

Black vote seen as crucial in SC Dem Feb. 3rd primary

(Columbia) Jan. 15, 2004 - Former Illinois Senator Carol Mosley-Braun, one of two African-American's in the Democratic presidential nomination race, made it official on Thursday, "I am here today to thank those Iowans who were prepared to stand for me in Monday's caucuses, and to ask that you stand instead for Howard Dean."

Democratic activist Rick Wade says the candidate who wins the black vote in South Carolina could win the South, "I think it'll be less significant in Iowa and New Hampshire than it would be viewed in South Carolina and other southern states."

Richland County Senator Darryl Jackson says Braun's announcement could affect what black voters do in South Carolina, "The people I've talked to, the members of my church, particularly African-American females, they were supporting Carol Mosely-Braun. I don't know if they will have a passion for anyone else."

He doesn't believe Moseley-Braun's supporters will stay at home on February 3rd, "It could help Al Sharpton because it takes one African-American out and just leaves one in, so he is the only African-American candidate in the race."

Jackson says Sharpton has spent more time than any other Democratic candidate campaigning in the Palmetto State. He's spent of lot of that time at black churches, "He has an advantage many of the other candidates don't have. He can speak from the pulpit."

Jackson believes Sharpton could be the wild card, he's not counting out Congressman Dick Gephardt, "And then there's the whole Jim Clyburn factor. He's supporting Congressman Gephardt. That will have some impact."
Blacks have played a key role in the state's Democratic primaries in the past.

114,000 Democrats voted in the 2002 statewide primary and more than 70,000 of those were minorities. Will they turn out for the presidential primary?

The campaigns are all the buzz at Stroy's Barbershop on Assembly. James Murray says a lot of people are unhappy with the Bush Administration, "There's a lot of people upset with Bush and the way he's running things. Period."

Herbert Glover says who to vote for is up in the air, while they look for candidates that meet their needs, "We got all these young people dying in Iraq." Darrell Goodwin says it's all about jobs, "Whoever gets out and works for the jobs to come back. I think that's going to be the person to win."

Wade says different issues may lead to different votes, "One thing for sure, the black vote is not homogenous. African-American voters are spread out among all of the campaigns."

Wade says that may be a good thing, because instead of the days when political kingpins delivered black votes, voters like Murray are making their own decisions on their own issues, "I'm going to have to pay closer attention to make sure I vote for the right person."

How much the black vote will play a role in this primary is all a question of turnout. Some political analysts are predicting a 50% turnout for black voters. Wade doubts it will be that high, but hopes momentum builds by February.

By Megan Hughes
Updated 7:21pm by BrettWitt

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