Government

Tom Vilsack joins Rural Forward, a group focused on spreading the liberal message to rural America

Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor and U.S. agriculture secretary, speaks at an event hosted by the advocacy group New Democracy at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. (Erin Murphy.Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau).
Tom Vilsack, the former Iowa governor and U.S. agriculture secretary, speaks at an event hosted by the advocacy group New Democracy at the State Historical Museum in Des Moines on Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. (Erin Murphy.Gazette-Lee Des Moines Bureau).

Tom Vilsack has joined a nationwide effort to help spread the liberal message in rural America in advance of the 2018 midterm elections.

Vilsack, the secretary of agriculture in the Obama administration and a former Iowa governor, is being joined in the effort by former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota, and former Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. The three are to be honorary co-chairs of Rural Forward, which was formed in the aftermath of the 2016 election.

The group is announcing its formal launch today.

President Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election with big margins in rural America, and Democrats and progressive groups have been working to bring voters back to their side since then.

“From broadband to rural electrification and renewable energy and from infrastructure to access to health care, rural America has benefited from more than a half century of progressive policies championed primarily by Democrats,” Bob Etheridge, head of the Rural Forward board, said in a statement. He is a former U.S. representative from North Carolina.

Etheridge and John Whitaker, a former state representative from Iowa, helped form the group.

Rural Forward says that it plans to hold town hall meetings and engage rural audiences over social media, supporting like-minded candidates and policies.

Vilsack, Landrieu and Daschle will be involved in promoting the group’s work.

Rural Forward is a 501(c)(4) nonprofit organization.

Such groups have been heavily involved in recent years in political campaigns, though federal law says that politics cannot be their primary function. Rural Forward says it will be involved in advocating for progressive policies in rural America with elected officials.

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