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USA TODAY: "A GOP Leader Looks to Recast His Party's Image with Black Voters"

August 20, 2018
Press Release
"I come from an era where Democrats and Republicans worked together," Estell said. “If Mark Walker is trying to be a public servant for all of the residents of North Carolina, God bless him."

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  U.S. Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.) today was featured in a story by USA Today, "In Donald Trump era, a GOP leader looks to recast his party's image with black voters."

The article highlights Walker's outreach efforts and his determination to expand the conservative message of opportunity and individual liberty to new communities. The story reads:

"At the forum attended by influential conservatives such as House Speaker Paul Ryan and former presidential adviser Karl Rove, Walker elaborated on a message he has delivered in other private conversations with Republicans. Walker's message resonated enough with the audience that after the event, Rove reached out to talk further.


"Walker, an affable former pastor, represents a North Carolina district that is one-fifth African-American. He is championing criminal justice reform and adequate funding for historically black colleges and universities, issues that are high priorities for many African-American voters.

"Walker spokesman Jack Minor said the lawmaker is working on legislation that would allow student athletes – many of whom are black – to be compensated for their publicity rights. Walker also has hosted two Washington summits with HBCU leaders, meetings that helped pave the way for year-round Pell grants for HBCU students. He teamed up with North Carolina Democratic Rep. Alma Adams to establish an internship program for students from HBCUs. Walker also was the first Republican in years to give a keynote address at the North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus Foundation dinner in June. All of the group's members are Democrats.


'Walker took the findings to heart during his first run for Congress in 2014, when he sought the support of local Democratic leader the Rev. Odell Cleveland. It took three meetings for Walker to win over the pastor, including a chat in Cleveland's office, coffee together at McDonald's and a small group lunch they attended together. 

"'I’m a lifelong Democrat and proud of it, but I just believe we have to find common ground,' Cleveland said. He added he still 'vehemently' disagrees with some of Walker’s votes, like one to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but he likes him.


"Walker and other Republicans may find an opening with African-Americans who feel the Democratic Party is taking their vote for granted and parachuting in at the last minute to get their support. Sabrina Singh, a spokeswoman for the Democratic National Committee, said the party learned in 2016 that it needs to start organizing in minority communities earlier and has been since.

"For her part, Anita Estell head of CELIE, a nonprofit focused on civic engagement, said she didn’t think the focus on Trump should prevent people from listening to Walker. Estell said she’d be happy to engage with Walker on diversity.

"'I come from an era where Democrats and Republicans worked together,' Estell said. “If Mark Walker is trying to be a public servant for all of the residents of North Carolina, God bless him.'"

Read the full article here.