COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A candidate running for an Ohio Statehouse seat said the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus is excluding him because of his party affiliation.
Josh Williams, a Republican running to be the state representative in District 41, said the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus will not include him in its organization despite presenting itself as nonpartisan.
“It always gets brought up about whether I’m being supported by the Black Legislative Caucus, and the answer is no,” Williams said. “And for appearance’s sake, it appears as though the caucus does not support me and therefore, I must not support Black issues or the Black community on certain issues — and that’s the entire opposite.”
Rep. Juanita Brent (D-Cleveland), president of the OLBC, said only elected officials, not candidates, can join the caucus. Aside from that, Brent said the organization was originally founded as a democratic caucus — and while it has moved away from explicit party lines, she said she does not believe Williams’ values align with the organization’s.
According to Williams’ campaign website, his policy platform includes opposing abortion, supporting expanded gun rights and lowering taxes and regulations on businesses.
When asked if the caucus would consider allowing a Republican legislator to join, Brent said it would be a caucus-wide discussion.
“It hasn’t been a consideration because we don’t have any Black elected Republicans,” said Brent.
Brent said the caucus hasn’t hosted any formal events except canvassing events for its current members running for reelection.
Williams said he is concerned about the ramifications for his campaign by not being associated with the Ohio Legislative Black Caucus.
“They essentially have a monopoly over representation for the black community here in Ohio,” Williams said.
Williams said he hopes the caucus will emphasize its partisanship on its website and in its programming.
Brent says elected representatives are considered on a case-by-case basis but said the caucus and the democratic party have a “close relationship.”