JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mike Espy is doing a balancing act as he runs for U.S. Senate in Mississippi.
As an African-American Democrat, Espy needs a strong voter turnout among black people, who make up 38 percent of the state’s population. But he can’t win without some white support in a conservative Southern state where voting patterns tend to break along racial lines. While most black votes go to Democrats, the white majority leans Republican.
Even as prominent African-American politicians, including U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, have traveled to Mississippi to endorse him, the 64-year-old Espy says he is reaching out to all audiences with a unifying message.
“I don’t care about race or religion or gender or party or sexual orientation or disability,” Espy told a diverse group of supporters at a recent reception in his Jackson campaign office, carefully pausing between each category.