>> 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.
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.
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.
>> 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.
>> 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.
>> 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.
>> 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.