Ohio Rep. Steve Chabot most recently snubbed black voters at an NAACP forum.
Democratic challenger Aftab Pureval was left to answer questions next to an empty chair at Wednesday night’s Cincinnati NAACP candidates’ forum after Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH) failed to show, despite multiple invitations.
Pureval took questions from moderator Colin Mayfield on issues like health care, criminal justice reform, and the #MeToo movement. He earned several rounds of applause for his record of diversity, his promise to fight GOP sabotage of Obamacare, and for promising to be accessible to residents of the district.
“I’ll show up for you when I’m in Congress,” Pureval told the crowd in his closing remarks, adding “My closing argument? This empty chair.”
Pureval pointed out on Thursday that Chabot has made a long habit of avoiding residents of his district, tweeting that Chabot “hasn’t held a town hall in six years. He won’t face his constituents. I always will.”
According to NAACP Cincinnati 2nd Vice President Nicole Taylor, Chabot was invited to the forum multiple times, including emails in early and late September, regular mail, and phone calls that continued until the night before the forum. Chabot’s office never responded, an occurrence that Taylor says is rare.
“Whether it’s Democrat or Republican, most people have the courtesy to respond,” Taylor said, and added that Chabot was one of only a few candidates who refused to even fill out the group’s questionnaire. She called Chabot’s snub “unfortunate” and “surprising,” because she expects candidates to be responsive “to all communities.”
Chabot’s conduct is all the more hypocritical given the fact that in 2016, he criticized Trump for failing to address the annual NAACP convention in Cincinnati. But when faced with the opportunity to answer questions from black constituents, and to engage with his opponent, Chabot would not even acknowledge their existence.
Instead of engaging with black voters, Chabot has spent his week sucking up to Trump. He began the week by praising Trump policies that hurt residents of his district, and will conclude the week by appearing at one of Trump’s vicious campaign rallies on Friday.
Aftab Pureval’s actions demonstrate his care for the community he hopes to serve. Steve Chabot doesn’t even care enough to return a phone call, unless it’s from Trump.