A black Democratic state representative from the crucial swing state of Ohio has loudly and proudly announced that she is supporting President Donald Trump’s bid for a second term.
In the midst of a fresh onslaught of accusations that he is a white supremacist, State Rep. Bernadine Kennedy Kent formally endorsed the president on Tuesday after a long and contentious battle with her Democratic Party members on several key issues.
Her endorsement was posted to the president’s 2020 campaign website. Kennedy Kent said in a separate press release that her husband James Whitaker, also “a lifelong Democrat,” is also supporting Trump’s reelection.
The lawmaker, who represents Ohio’s 25th District, and her husband met with the president on Air Force One in Cleveland ahead of Tuesday night’s debate.
Her endorsement of Trump delivered another blow to the Democratic Party which has been reeling from several defections of black lawmakers. In a hard-fought election year the party needs every black vote to secure a path to electoral victory.
“We all recognize that gainful employment and economic development is the best deterrent against violence and social unrest, so I want to thank President Trump for his commitment to ensuring the success of the black community in every way,” she wrote.
“Not only am I black, I am a proud American and delighted to endorse President Trump for re-election,” wrote Kennedy Kent. “Furthermore, I am honored to share with people my intent to vote for him and spread the word on the value of his leadership and his dedication to the American people.”
She rejected the Democratic Party’s chosen nominee, former vice president Joe Biden, because her “values” align more with Trump’s than with “Biden’s divisive rhetoric, promotion of mass incarceration, and disrespectful, insensitive ideologies that substantiates his infamous comment ‘…if you’re still deciding between me and Trump, then you ain’t Black…’ during an interview on a popular African American radio program earlier this year.”
“Under President Trump’s leadership, black Americans have experienced record unemployment and the poverty rate among the black community has fallen to its lowest level in U.S. history,” she wrote. She praised the president for his “willingness to listen to” South Carolina Republican Tim Scott “and the concerns of invested citizens from diverse communities in economic distress.
Democrats downplayed the announcement, noting that Kennedy Kent served two years before being voted out of the state’s House Democratic Caucus in June 2018. She has not returned to the Statehouse since May 2019, when she was blocked from entering a room.
She has been embroiled in a dispute with the members over accusations that she sent a letter on official Ohio Legislative Black Caucus letterhead without permission and forged electronic signatures in June 2018, according to a report from The Columbus Dispatch.
“There is no apology,” said Cleveland Democrat and president of the Black Caucus, Rep. Stephanie Howse. “She’s just digging down, and you cannot operate that way, especially when you’re elected and entrusted with people’s information. You cannot use it for your own personal agenda.”
“She basically hasn’t been involved with the party or her Statehouse job for a long time,” Ohio Democratic Party Chairman David Pepper told the newspaper. “This is the first I’ve heard of her in a while. Obviously, she checked out of her public position a long time ago.”
Kennedy Kent, who is not seeking reelection in 2020, accused House Democrats’ “muddied mistreatment and unlawful action” as the reason why she left the party.
“Following my traumatic experience on May  caught on Statehouse security video, my husband proclaimed his intent to vote for President Trump and walked away from the Democrat Party,” she wrote.
Kennedy Kent said, “After considering this scarring event, as well as other negative experiences in my legislative career, I, along with other citizens, came to the conclusion that the Democrat Party does not have the people’s best interest in mind.”