Former senators launching effort to help Dems win rural votes

Former senators launching effort to help Dems win rural votes
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Former Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampOn The Money: Stocks sink on Trump tariff threat | GOP caught off guard by new trade turmoil | Federal deficit grew 38 percent this fiscal year | Banks avoid taking position in Trump, Dem subpoena fight Fight over Trump's new NAFTA hits key stretch Former senators launching effort to help Dems win rural votes MORE (D-N.D.) and Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyK Street giants scoop up coveted ex-lawmakers Obama honors 'American statesman' Richard Lugar Former GOP senator Richard Lugar dies at 87 MORE (D-Ind.) are launching an initiative to help the Democratic Party reverse its losses in rural America ahead of the 2020 election. 

Heitkamp and Donnelly, who both lost their reelection bids in red states last year, will introduce One Country on Thursday in an effort to win back voters who have reliably voted Republican for years.

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“One Country will reopen the dialogue with rural America, reengaging rural voters with trust and respect. By taking these conversations and combining them with data, research, and polling, One Country will reverse the trends that are causing rural voters to reject Democratic leadership,” the group said in a statement.

“While political pundits and pollsters perceive rural America as firmly in Republican hands, One Country’s mission is to change that perception and show the path forward.”

The group says such an initiative is necessary if Democrats want to reverse the trend of winning the popular vote in presidential elections, but still falling short in the Electoral College.

Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham Clinton2020 Democrats target federal ban on abortion funding Hillary Clinton slams Trump for spreading 'sexist trash' about Pelosi Gillibrand seizes on abortion debate to jump-start campaign MORE won the popular vote by about 3 million ballots in 2016, but only won 227 electoral votes.

One Country predicts Democratic chances of flipping states like Arizona, Florida, Nevada, North Carolina, Texas and Georgia will improve but that whiter, more rural states like Minnesota, Maine and New Hampshire will become more competitive in 2020.

“They need to show up. They need to recognize that there are voters in rural America who will again vote for the Democratic Party if they hear ideas and goals that are consistent with what they need to thrive. The Democratic Party needs to be a 50 state party, and not just an urban party,” Heitkamp told Axios.