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Dean Expedites Courting of Black Vote

By RON VAMPLE
The Associated Press
Friday, September 22, 2006; 9:31 PM

DETROIT -- The Democratic Party can no longer sit back and wait until three weeks before an election to ask minorities for their vote, Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Friday.

"In many ways, the Democratic Party hasn't moved itself out of the '60s and '70s," Dean said in remarks to the DNC's African-American Leadership Summit, which is aimed at mobilizing black voters and encouraging more minority candidates for state offices.

"If we don't get smart about having folks on the ticket that look like the people whose votes were asking for, in meaningful positions of authority, then we're not going to win. And the party that gets to do that first is the party that's going to win," Dean said.

Annie Mae Holt, a 59-year-old Detroit teacher who attended the gathering, said Democrats must be careful not to allow Republicans to create a divide.

"We need to make sure that people who look like the diversity that is evolving in the United States is represented on our Democratic ticket," Holt said in an interview.

Black voters could be crucial to Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm's effort to overcome a stiff challenge from GOP challenger Dick DeVos. Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick recently promised to energize city voters for Granholm and avoid a repeat of the low 1990 turnout that contributed to Republican John Engler narrowly winning the governorship.

"In order for this party to win, we have to include more people," Kilpatrick said. "The numbers say that we need to move the African-American (and) Latino vote inside urban America. Unless we go get it, we won't win."

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Associated Press Political Writer Kathy Barks Hoffman in Lansing contributed to this report.

© 2006 The Associated Press