FIRST AIRED: June 12, 2018

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00:00:00
>> Like their talk, I'm reaching across the aisle, working with everybody irrespective of race.>> Mike Espy is the kind of candidate the Democrats hope will help them take back the Senate in 2018. A former Congressman and Agriculture Secretary, Espy is running in his home state of Mississippi for the Senate seat being vacated by retiring Republican Thad Cochrane.
00:00:19
Espy would be the deep red state's first black senator since Reconstruction. But to win, Espy, and Democrats in states like Missouri and Texas, will need overwhelming support from African-American voters, a group that largely stayed home in 2016. Karen Bohan is following the story.>> One of the big challenges for Democrats in the midterm elections is making sure that black voters are enthusiastic enough to go out to the polls.
00:00:47
They are among the most loyal voting blocs for Democrats, but we saw in 2016 that turnout fell below expectations. And that helped to cost Hillary Clinton the White House.>> I think that I'm the one to unify Mississippi, I really do.>> In Mississippi, African-Americans make up 37% of all voters, the highest share of any state.
00:01:12
>> We hope he's successful in this election.>> But its white voters are among the most conservative. Espy, making a centrist pitch, calculates that he can get by with only 25% of the white vote. If he gets a strong enough black turnout and an overwhelming majority of their votes.
00:01:27
>> I'm running on the issues common ground, economic development.>> Democrats are heartened by the success of Stacey Abrams in Georgia, who last month became the first black woman to head a ticket for governor from either party. But winning the black vote is about more than fielding black candidates.
00:01:44
>> What you really have to do is show them that you're engaged, criminal justice issues, police brutality. Those are issues that a lot of black voters wanna hear candidates talking about.>> We all need to pull together.>> The model Espy hopes to follow is the Senate victory of Doug Jones in Alabama.
00:02:01
>> And people said, what are the odds, what are the odds->> Jones defeated a flawed GOP rival, Roy Moore, partly by turning out a higher share of black voters than when Barack Obama was on the ballot.