With less than a week before Election Day gubernatorial candidates Mike Ross (D) and Asa Hutchinson (R) both campaigned in Little Rock Wednesday and stressed the importance of Arkansas’s African-American vote.
Ross contended his support for expanded pre-K and a higher minimum wage as well as his opposition to the recently struck down Voter ID law would benefit the black community. At his campaign headquarters Ross also received the support of the entire Legislative Black Caucus.
“When I’m elected I will turn to the people here with me today for advice, council, and guidance. I will listen to them and I will depend on their experience and expertise to work with me as we make our state all it can be and all it should be for every single one of us,” said Ross.
In a statement Hutchinson’s campaign manager Jon Gilmore commented on the fact that there is not a single black state legislator endorsing Hutchinson.
“We are thrilled to have the support of Mayor Arnell Willis of Helena-West Helena along with many other prominent African American leaders…It should be noted that the members of the legislature that endorsed Congressman Ross today are members of the Democratic Party and he is the Democratic nominee, so the endorsements are no surprise to us,” said Gilmore.
Hutchinson told his supporters at a rally in Little Rock that the GOP is capable of reaching out to black voters and mentioned the support of a professional athlete as proof.
“The Republican Party and our candidates are open to those that are minority, those that may have not been traditionally participating in the Republican Party. We have reached out to them. I was delighted yesterday to announce the endorsement of Torri Hunter, major league baseball with the Detroit Tigers and a native of Pine Bluff, Arkansas,” said Hutchinson.
The five time All-Star and 18 year baseball veteran is featured in a new round of radio advertisements for Hutchinson. Hunter in the ad:
“Asa is committed to the principles we hold dear, like a strong faith in God, equal justice for all, and keeping marriage between one man and one woman.”
Both candidates are trying to maximize voter turn-out and see African-American voters as key to bolstering their numbers. Following 2012’s election the U.S. Census Bureau reported Arkansas had one of the lowest percentages of black voter turn-out in the country. African-Americans in Arkansas traditionally lean Democratic and mobilizing their votes would likely boost Ross’s chances while Hutchinson and Republicans are largely looking to make inroads.
Ross and Hutchinson also face Libertarian Frank Gilbert and Green Josh Drake.