Republicans, Democrats React to New GOP Director of African American Engagement

HARRISONBURG, Va. -- There's now a state Director of African American Engagement for the Republican Party in Virginia.

Reverend Doctor Joe Ellison, Jr. was appointed on Wednesday.

Local committee members are speaking out about the new position.

Two committee members, from opposing parties, talked about pulling in votes.

Part of Reverend Doctor Joe Ellison, Jr.'s job is to engage African American community leaders and groups.

When asked about the new post, Committee Chairperson for Rockingham county Republicans Judy Way talked about voting.

Way thinks voters should choose their party based on informed decisions about platform issues.

On the other hand, Democratic committee member Joe Fitzgerald said he's sure Dr. Ellison is sincere, but he believes Republicans discriminate against African American voters.

"That it would be such that the voters would be informed and that they would look at each candidate and decide who to vote for according to the issues and what that
particular party's person stands for, not the fact that they're black or Hispanic or a woman," said Way.

"But the party itself as an organization has some serious sincerity issues on the entire topic of African American Voting. They make great efforts with voter ID and other initiatives over the last several years to try and keep poor..African American people from voting," said Fitzgerald.

Reverend Doctor Ellison also released a statement on his appointment.

Dr. Ellison said Republicans have showed a renewed commitment to talking to communities outside of the traditional Republican coalition.

He also said that African Americans generally share far more values with the Republican party than they realize.

Dr. Ellison said those include hard work and a desire to build a better future for kids. is happy to provide a forum for commenting and discussion. Please respect and abide by the house rules:

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