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Amy Walter on the ‘symbolism’ of Tuesday’s election results

Elections were held in several states on Tuesday, even as the pandemic and major protests consumed the country. In Ferguson, Missouri, where protests first erupted in 2014 after the shooting death of Michael Brown by a white police officer, an African American woman was elected as the city’s next mayor. For more results and analysis, Judy Woodruff talks to Amy Walter of the Cook Political Report.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    It was a remarkable contrast yesterday, in the middle of an ongoing pandemic.

    Even as protesters took to the streets in dozens of cities, voters in several states were making their voices heard at the polls, both in person and by mail.

    In Ferguson, Missouri, where protests first erupted in 2014 after the shooting death of Michael Brown by a white police officer, the city elected its first African-American and first woman mayor.

    Ella Jones reflected on her historic win last night.

  • Mayor-Elect Ella Jones:

    So, being the first African-American woman, what does that mean? That means, I have got work to do, because, when you're an African-American woman, they require more of you than they require of my counterpart.

    And I know that the people in Ferguson are ready to stabilize their community, and we're going to work together to get it done.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    To look at some of yesterday's election results and what it means ahead of November, I'm joined now by someone familiar to "NewsHour" viewers.

    It's Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report and host of public radio's "Politics With Amy Walter."

    So, hello, Amy.

    Let's start with those results in Ferguson. It's almost like bookends. You had the big protests of six years ago, with the death of Michael Brown at the hands of a police officer, six years later, protests in Ferguson, Missouri, over the — over what happened in Minneapolis.

    It's a city still struggling, like the rest of the country, with this issue. How is it thought that the election of this woman, Ella Jones, could change things?

  • Amy Walter:

    Yes, Judy, it is quite remarkable, again, to have the first African-American elected in this week in a city like Ferguson which — that has so much symbolism.

    But what's also remarkable, Judy, is how much the American public has moved on this issue, this issue of excessive force used by police, especially against black folks. And what we saw in 2014 was, only a third of Americans thought that the police used executive force with African-Americans vs. whites.

    In 2016, it was still about a third. Today, a new poll came out, Monmouth University poll, shows that almost 60 percent of Americans now believe that excessive force is being used against African-Americans more so than it's being used against whites.

    And I think that's an incredible movement in such a short amount of time. I think a lot of that is driven, of course, by the horrific video that most Americans, if they haven't seen it themselves, have heard about.

    And I also think it's reflective of the fact that a lot has happened since 2014, even in Ferguson. In Ferguson, even before this election of the mayor, a number of African-Americans were elected to the city council, so it went from almost all white to being majority African-American over the course of these last few years.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    So, Amy, so much to talk about there, but I also want to ask you about Iowa. Very interesting result there.

    Republican conservative Congressman Steve King, who is known for making controversial statements over the years, especially with regard to white supremacy, and right now, he — so, last night, he goes down to defeat in that primary in Iowa.

    What does this say about what could happen in November?

  • Amy Walter:

    Judy, seems like almost too much of a Hollywood script, right, to have the first African-American elected in Ferguson and then to have somebody associated with anti-immigrant and racist statements lose in a primary in Iowa.

    It's not as simple as that, of course. Nothing ever is in life or in politics. The challenge that Steve King had also came within his own party, and he was defeated in a Republican primary, in large part because the Republican leadership abandoned him after he made some of these comments in 2019.

    But they were also abandoning him because of how weak a showing he had in 2018. He almost lost in this very conservative, very Republican district. They got behind a state senator who's also very conservative, who's also very closely tied to Donald Trump. He tied himself very closely to the president in his own ads.

    The campaign that the Republican opponent to Steve King ran wasn't taking on Steve King's past anti-immigrant or racist statements. He didn't mention that really at all. It was focused on the fact that Steve King had lost his prestigious committee assignment, that Republicans had stripped him of that.

    So that was a bigger factor in this race than the statements that he had made previously.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And now that seat is going to be one tougher for the Democrats to pick up.

  • Amy Walter:

    That's right.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Republicans think they have got a stronger — very quickly, Amy, in just a few seconds, this dispute over the Republican Convention in the state of North Carolina, where is that headed?

  • Amy Walter:

    It looks like it's headed to a different state.

    The president wants — the president wants a big convention, and he wants a crowd. And North Carolina's not going to give it to him, so he's going to figure it out, and he wants to show America that he's getting things back on track, and the convention is his way to do that.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Amy Walter, so much to talk about. Thank you very much. Great to see you on this Wednesday.

    We will see you next week.

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