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The Journal Gazette

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 1:00 am

Local couple campaigned to defeat Moore

Went to Alabama last week

BRIAN FRANCISCO | The Journal Gazette

Allen County Democratic Party activist Charlie Belch went to Alabama last week to campaign for U.S. Senate candidate Doug Jones.

Belch, 79, and his wife, Donna, 76, helped out with direct mailings and get-out-the-vote telephone calls on behalf of Jones in his race against Republican Roy Moore.

Belch said Tuesday he and his wife called only black voters because “you can't walk around with a Yankee accent” in Alabama and hope to sway white voters. News media analyses of the Moore-Jones contest have pointed out that white Alabamians have a long history of openly defying outsiders' advice, notably that from the federal government.

The Belches did not meet Jones or attend public campaign events.

“We were purposely trying to keep quiet,” Charlie Belch said.

The couple went there at the invitation of longtime friends and Jones supporters Ed and Judy Kamnikar, who live in a Montgomery, Alabama, suburb. Ed Kamnikar was city controller under Ivan Lebamoff, Fort Wayne's mayor from 1972 to 1975.

Charlie Belch is a former chairman of the Allen County Democratic Party and was the party's mayoral candidate in 1991, losing to Republican Paul Helmke.

In a telephone interview before polls closed, Belch said Democrats stood to gain regardless of who won the special election. They either would pick up a Senate seat in a heavily Republican state or get to spend the 2018 mid-term elections hammering away at the GOP for electing Moore, 70, who has been accused of sexual misconduct with teenagers when he was in his 30s. 

In the event of a Moore victory, “every Democrat on the ticket will be running against Roy Moore,” Belch said. 

He said he remains active in local Democratic politics, and he wouldn't rule out another out-of-state campaign trip. He is fond of the Iowa presidential caucuses, volunteering there for candidate Richard Gephardt in 2004.

“Here is my favorite quote: They tell you you should not discuss politics or religion. ... What else is worth discussing? You can only talk about the weather so often,” Belch said.

bfrancisco@jg.net