Memo: Group planned to use 2004 issue in Fla. to lure Dems
Ohio voters will decide on a minimum wage raise Nov. 7.
COLUMBUS (AP) -- A liberal activist group developed a plan to use Florida's minimum-wage ballot issue in 2004 to lure Democrats to the polls in hopes of defeating President Bush and other Republicans, a memo shows.
The memo, prepared by Florida ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, said having an increase in the minimum wage on the ballot "can increase the turnout of supporters without increasing turnout from the opposition."
Ohioans will vote Nov. 7 on a ballot proposal to raise Ohio's minimum wage.
Democrats and others pinned Bush's 118,000-vote win in Ohio, which gave him the 2004 election, on the turnout among conservatives attracted by a statewide ballot issue that banned gay marriages. Turnout in Ohio was 72 percent, compared with 64 percent in 2000, the previous presidential election year.
The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, laid out a three-point goal: increase turnout of working-class, mostly Democratic voters, increase the power of "progressive constituencies by moving a mass agenda" and give about 300,000 Floridians a wage increase.
"Low turnout among Democratic constituencies doomed Democrats in 2002, and in order to avoid these results, there must be a way to pull out Democratic voters, already skeptical of the voting process in light of the 2000 election debacle," the memo says.
The results were mixed. Floridians cast about 1.5 million more votes in 2004 than they did in 2000, and the minimum wage increase won with 72 percent of the vote.
However, Bush beat John Kerry by nearly 381,000 votes -- up from the 537-vote edge that gave him Florida and the election in 2000. In the same election, Republican Mel Martinez of Florida won the Senate seat of Democrat Bob Graham, who had retired. Turnout was 74 percent of registered voters, compared with 70 percent in 2000.
uthern regional director, said the memo was a draft version that never was completed or implemented but was shopped around to various groups by a former ACORN worker. The authors, including Ketterning, underestimated the minimum-wage issue's support among Republicans, he said.
"The lesson from Florida was essentially that minimum wage has huge bipartisan support," Ketterning said.
Ohio groups haven't adopted a similar strategy, the Ohio Democratic Party and ACORN said. The minimum-wage issue is not part of the overall campaign in which Democrats are ahead in polling of most races for the first time in 16 years, said Randy Borntrager, spokesman for the Ohio Democrats.
"The difference is that we have an issue that is not looking to divide people. This issue brings people together," Borntrager said, citing internal polling that finds Republicans also support the minimum-wage increase. "The gay marriage issue divided people."