In the middle of the sexual harassment allegations against Democratic Senator Al Franken, Republican Representative Trent Franks, and Michigan’s Democratic Representative John Conyers, all of whom plan to resign, another allegation was made.
During a rally for Congressman Conyers, clergy, state legislators, and other supporters felt Democratic leaders were treating Conyers differently. They felt the Democratic Party was making decisions about their representative without due process and without consulting the constituents of Michigan’s 13th Congressional District.
One state legislator said the rush to judgment by leading Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi revealed the party felt African Americans are disposable and that their votes are taken for granted.
Jonathan Kinloch, the Democratic Party chair of Michigan’s 13th Congressional District, joined Stateside to discuss his party’s relations with national HQ.
Listen above for the full conversation, or read highlights below.
On whether the party takes black votes for granted
Kinloch expressed his frustration with the national party leaders for forging ahead on Rep. Conyers without discussing the matter with party leaders in the district. “I was going to actually reach out to Nancy Pelosi to talk with her about that whole issue of her making the determination, calling for his resignation without reaching out to, at minimum, the local party to get our sentiment, to get our thoughts,” said Kinloch.
In the state, “it’s still early yet,” he said. Ahead of the 2018 gubernatorial election, only some candidates, like Abdul el-Sayed and Bill Cobbs, have come to the district, while others, such as Gretchen Whitmer, have not had conversations with Kinloch.
On what the party can do to keep black voters engaged
Kinloch acknowledged that the Democratic Party, both on the state and national levels, has learned that deploying resources to black communities early is critical to maintaining support. That way, the party can learn what some of the high-priority interests are and incorporate those into the party platform. “We gotta start having a conversation, and not just coming around during election time,” said Kinloch.