TRENTON — Stepping out a committee hearing where she voted ‘yes’ to bills that would expand public preschool and full-day kindergarten in New Jersey, Senator Shirley Turner (D-15) said she expects that the demands of making do on stagnant wages will be foremost in Democratic voters’ minds when her district goes to the polls in June and November. Though the sluggish growth in wages has helped Donald Trump so far, she said he may have a harder time going forward.
Turner believes Trump’s vote of confidence from former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke and his hesitation to disavow it will only serve to drive Democratic turnout in her district. The Mercer Democrat helped to get out the vote for Hillary Clinton in 2008, when New Jersey had a rare competitive primary in the nominating contest between the former first lady and then-Junior Senator Barack Obama.
“I think it’s going to help in terms of galvanizing the base, the fact that David Duke’s name has entered the race,” she said. “And people just feel now that the wrong people are supporting Donald Trump, and they’re very concerned that it’s going to create even more division than already exists in this country.”
Turner believes that Trump and Vermont’s Bernie Sanders tap into the same populist outrage at the enduring aftermath of the 2008 financial collapse. Now that Clinton is predicted to clinch the nomination after big wins on Super Tuesday, Turner is confident that the Klan association will follow Trump into the general election. Black voters will be a key bloc during the general, just as were during this week’s primaries.
“Donald Trump is to the Republican party what Bernie Sanders is to the Democratic party,” she said. “Both of them, they have touched some nerves in this country and they’ve been able to generate a lot of support because people are very concerned about their economic welfare. They have not benefited over the last decade or so.
“Everything else has gone up except for their paychecks. They’re paying more and more for healthcare, their pensions and everything else. But they’re not seeing any real improvement in their economics.”