American racism is ‘an issue of sin, not politics’: Welcome to the changing face of Cumberland County

By: - November 3, 2020 6:38 pm

CARLISLE, Pa. — Among the newest political battlefields in Pennsylvania is Cumberland County.

The area was once solidly Republican. But the creep of development into once rural fields around Pennsylvania’s capital has led Democrats to make inroads. Gov. Tom Wolf flipped it blue in his 2018 reelection romp.

One of the most Democratic areas of the county is the college town of Carlisle. Around 5 p.m., one polling station in the northern part of the city, at the Stuart Community Center, reported at least 800 people had voted out of 2,500 voters, or roughly 30 percent turnout. 

That’s without mail-in ballots, and before more voters headed to the polls after work.

Many of the voters coming as dusk fell said they voted straight ticket Democrat. Lea Potteiger, 27, said she mostly votes in presidential years. This year, she backed Biden because he can speak up “for those who don’t have a voice.”

Jerry Stirkey, 42, said he voted straight Democratic because of his disdain for Trump.

“The vitriol and nastiness in this country is over the top, and it starts at the head,” Stirkey, who is Black, said referencing Trump.

He also wanted to see the country get the pandemic under control.

But the votes at the precinct weren’t uniformly blue. Sophia Bassett, 51, left the polling place before plucking a lolly pop from the Republicans table outside the community center.

Bassett, who is also Black, said she voted for Trump “for the country.” She trusted him on the economy, and thought he deserved to finish what he started.

Bassett, who voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016, said neither candidate was perfect, but was turned off by Biden telling Black voters in May that “you ain’t Black” if you are undecided in 2020.

And while Trump may have had his share of racist comments, Bassett thought it reflected on America, not the president.

“The race issue is on us as Americans. It is an issue of sin, not politics,” she told the Capital-Star.

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Stephen Caruso
Stephen Caruso

Stephen Caruso is a former senior reporter with Pennsylvania Capital-Star. Before working with the Capital-Star he covered Pennsylvania state government for The PLS Reporter.