NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – Connecticut NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile is "very, very concerned" about the lack of diversity among Democratic candidates this election year and is not ruling out throwing his support behind Republicans.
Esdaile is speaking out to News 8’s George Colli one day after leading Democratic Gubernatorial contender Ned Lamont announced Susan Bysiewicz would be his running mate.
"You can’t say we’re about diversity when there is no diversity on the ticket," said Esdaile. "There’s never been a black Democratic congressman in the state of Connecticut. There’s never been a black on the top of the Democratic ticket. We’ve had state treasurer and it’s pretty much been regulated to that position since the 60’s and 70’s and a lot has changed since the 60’s."
Esdaile says the black community shows 90% support behind Democratic candidates. He says the NAACP goes door-to-door registering and educating black voters. He wants to see a diverse ticket that reflects the community.
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Esdaile says the black community and Democrats need to have a serious discussion prior to this election.
"I think that if the Democrats are not listening to the black community, I think it’s important that we all go independent and let both parties fight for it," said Esdaile from the New Haven NAACP office. "Donald Trump hurts this whole situation but if Donald Trump wasn’t in the presidential seat right now the Republicans would be in a great position to have a conversation with the black community due to the fact that, when much is given, much is required. We give a lot to the Democratic Party but we are not getting the return on investment."
Susan Bysiewicz was asked about the lack of racial diversity on the ticket during Tuesday news conference announcing she would be Ned Lamont’s running mate.
“We are very committed to have qualified, competent people that show the diversity of our state appointed to judgeships to commissioner positions, deputy commissioner positions to boards and commissions,” she said.
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Bridgeport Mayor and Democratic Governor contender Joe Ganim agrees with Esdaile.
"I’ve been talking for months about the lack of inclusion by party leadership and the need for greater diversity in this convention process. I believe our party needs to be more inclusive and more fully embrace communities of color that have been a bedrock of the Democratic Party," said Ganim. "We need a ticket at the highest levels that reflects the rich diversity of our state. Throughout the delegate selection process, I have been troubled by the lack of outreach to communities of color. The critical Rules Committee, which has set the rules for this convention, has few members of color. We can and must do better."
Connecticut Democratic Party Chair Nick Balletto issued the following statement to News 8:
"I spoke to Scott Esdaile today about his concerns and I have always kept by door open for those conversations—they’re discussions we need to have. Of course it’s vital that we have diverse representation at the higher levels of office. As various offices at the top levels of our state government decided not to do so. I remain committed to ensuring diversity and inclusion at every level of the Democratic Party."
Esdaile says a protest or walk out at this weekend’s state convention is an option that remains on the table.