Daschle, Top Dem Ex-Lawmakers Launch Rural Progressive Group ...
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD), former Agriculture Secretary and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack (D), former Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and former Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-NC) are launching Rural Forward, an organization to advocate progressive ideas in rural communities and rebuild Democrats’ standing in parts of the country where they’ve been decimated over the last decade.
The organization, first unveiled to TPM, will be helmed by Etheridge, with the others serving as honorary co-chairs. Brad Woodhouse, a former Etheridge staffer who went on to serve as communications director of the Democratic National Committee and run American Bridge, will serve as senior adviser, with former Iowa state Rep. John Whitaker (D) as executive director and John Davis, a veteran of a number of Iowa races as well as the John Edwards presidential campaign, pitching in as well.
Those involved recognize it’s a steep challenge for Democrats to recover in rural areas – and that the group’s launch is a small first step towards meeting it.
“A lot of the states that have gone bright red used to be bright purple, and we want to make them purple again and we think there’s an opportunity to do that. But we need an agenda, we need candidates, we need just about everything to rejuvenate the party in these places,” Daschle told TPM. “This isn’t going to happen overnight, although Mr. Trump may be helping us more than we realize.” ...
They’re betting that a renewed focus on pocketbook issues can help lead a Democratic recovery in rural areas across the country, even as culture wars burn as hot as ever in the political sphere due to Trump.
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Talking Points Memo
Democrats were looking at suburban districts. Now they’re glancing toward rural ones too. ...
However, the more telling special elections might have been a handful in more rural districts President Trump won by overwhelming margins. Five special elections have been held for seats where Trump won 56 percent to 60 percent of the vote — in Kansas, Montana, South Carolina, Pennsylvania and Arizona — and in each of those races the Democrat did much better than expected, winning one and getting very close in two others.
[Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.)] wrote an after-action review 14 months ago in which his central theme was to focus on the onetime Republican strongholds in the suburbs, where Democrats have been gaining ground, at the expense of the mostly rural districts, such as the one Lamb won last month.
“It’s harder in places where it used to be easier, and it’s easier in places where it used to be harder,” he said Friday, explaining the rationale in his report.
Now, Maloney is among the Democrats suggesting that the 2018 field is dramatically larger than anyone could have guessed last year, including in some more rural spots that they once thought of ceding to Republicans.
“Every time somebody’s had a ballot in front of them, since Donald Trump was elected, we significantly outperformed,” Maloney said Friday. “Yeah, the baseline has clearly shifted, and that tide is lifting a lot of boats.”