ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Democrats are using the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, to rally black voters ahead of the Nov. 4 election, with Republicans calling the move "race-baiting."
A state Democratic Party mailing includes images from protests prompted by Brown's shooting, including a photo of two young black children holding up signs saying "Don't Shoot." The mailer says: "If you want to prevent another Ferguson in their future ... VOTE," adding "It's up to you to make change happen."
Party spokesman Michael Smith said Wednesday that democracy is stronger when more people vote. "And we have seen what happens in places like Ferguson, Missouri, when voices are silenced," Smith said in a statement. "We must make sure to exercise our right to vote."
Georgia has become a key battleground in the fight for control of the Senate, as Democrat Michelle Nunn looks to pick up an open seat against Republican David Perdue. In addition, a tight race for governor has emerged as Democrat Jason Carter challenges Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, who is seeking a second term.
While the state is currently dominated by Republicans, Democrats are counting on turning out minority voters and others who tend to sit out in midterm elections. Meanwhile, Republicans have also launched a statewide minority outreach effort led by Leo Smith, Georgia GOP's director of minority engagement who's been traveling the state to meet with community groups and touting the party's commitment to creating jobs and criminal justice reform.
Smith said Democrats were engaging in "race-baiting ploys" with the mailer and the suggestion that "Ferguson could happen here if Republicans are elected." Smith notes the political power structure in Ferguson is largely Democratic, although some of the frustrations during the protests were over a lack of black police officers and elected officials in the town.
The mailer was first reported by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.