Omaha, NE.—With Election Day less than a month away, bad blood between two key Democratic leaders appears to be reaching a boiling point tied to accusations of racism.
News Channel Nebraska has learned Crystal Rhoades the head of the Douglas County Democratic Party has accused Nebraska Democratic Party Chairwoman Jane Kleeb of using African Americans as props—both Rhoades and Kleeb are white.
According to emails and texts, Rhoades has written that Kleeb “grabs a person of color as a token for her photos. Then she leaves without doing a thing to actually help.”
Kleeb tells News Channel Nebraska she finds Rhoades’ comments “really hurtful.”
In the meantime Rhoades who also wrote, “Jane breezes into town, grabs a token and rents a space and she’s a hero and I’m a zero?” is doubling down.
In the middle of this feud is another Democrat—a black woman—and she’s siding with Kleeb. Precious McKesson, the Constituency Director leading get-out-the-vote efforts for the state party and a member of Kleeb’s staff, is accusing Rhoades of racism.
On Sunday McKesson resigned from her post as the African American Representative for Douglas County firing off an email ripping Rhoades’ “poor leadership,” “racist comments” and “the way she’s treated women of color in the Democratic Party.”
In an interview with News Channel Nebraska, McKesson said when Rhoades’ wrote of KIeeb using “a token for her photos” Rhoades was referring to McKesson—an obvious racial slur by Rhoades.
“If I’ve offended Chair Kleeb’s employees and supporters by saying she uses them than I apologize to them,” says Rhoades in her statement adding she “will continue to be an advocate for racial justice and recruit and support candidates of color.”
All this comes in the final days of the nationally watched-metro Omaha race for Congress, where Democrat Kara Eastman is running against 2nd District Republican Congressman Don Bacon. Recent polls find Eastman trailing from between four and nine points, with many voters still undecided.
Asked by News Channel Nebraska how this feud effects Eastman’s chances of winning, Kleeb defended the state party’s efforts to get out the vote in all parts of the 2nd Congressional District—and especially north Omaha—”now and for the long haul” adding she and the party will “rise above these internal conflicts.”