The Buzz

Emanuel Cleaver, Sly James seek to ignite Democratic voters

James (left), Cleaver
James (left), Cleaver

Democrats in Missouri and across the country have launched an effort to gin up election day turnout amid signs that some potential voters have all but tuned out the vitriolic presidential race.

“The attitude in some places is, `Remind me: Why should I do this again?’” Kansas City Mayor Sly James said about the need to vote. He spoke at a Monday morning rally at the Winstead’s parking lot just east of the Country Club Plaza.

“Pockets of ambivalence. That’s what we need to guard against more than anything,” he said.

James and Congressman Emanuel Cleaver had just stepped off a “Forward Together” bus that’s touring the country with the intent of mobilizing Democratic voters. The bus that showed up in Kansas City is one of two sponsored by the Democratic National Committee that’s touring key states.

About 30 Democrats were on hand to greet the bus Monday.

Cleaver said he’s less concerned about the number of Democrats who will show up to vote next month than he was a few weeks ago.

“A month ago I was trembling, and I actually said to President (Bill) Clinton...that I was extremely concerned...” Cleaver said. “Frankly Donald Trump has aroused an interest in voting that was not there before the first debate. Now I’m sensing a new interest.”

During a weekend visit to Home Depot, Cleaver said he couldn’t take two steps without another person stopping him to talk about the election.

James said one pocket of ambivalence that Democrats need to focus on is African-American males. Too many are unconvinced that voting is worth their time, he said.

Democrats will hold a rally Sunday in east Kansas City to try to continue the momentum. Senate nominee Jason Kander is scheduled to attend.

Meantime, James and Cleaver are accepting invitations to speak in battleground states, such as North Carolina and Florida, in the days to come.