Keith Ellison Unveils DNC Rural Engagement Plan

Friday, January 27, 2017

Via Press Release

Washington, DC – Today, Keith Ellison unveiled his DNC rural engagement plan, which aims to make rural voters a priority for the Democratic Party. Democrats lost rural voters by a 28-point margin in 2016. 

Keith Ellison’s DNC rural engagement plan includes (view the full plan here):


  • Develop a national Rural County Chairs Association to advise the DNC on policy, electoral opportunities and messaging.
  • Launch a nationwide organizing tour in rural counties that were won by Obama and lost by Clinton or won by local Democrats and lost by national Democrats. 
  • Organize in 3,143 counties across the country.


  • Invest in programs to engage rural voters and increase Democratic vote share.
  • Provide frequent and accessible trainings on the state and local level to rural counties.
  • Locate full-time staff based across the United States focused on rural voters and outreach.


  • Involve rural Democratic leaders in developing messaging for rural areas.
  • Develop a database of all rural radio stations and newspapers and contact information.
  • Develop, recruit, train and book surrogates for rural radio and TV.

"For far too long, we have ignored rural America and let Republicans run the table. No more,” said Congressman Keith Ellison. “The Democratic Party needs to do a better job of reaching out to rural voters. Donald Trump won them by a whopping 28 points this past election, and I'm committed to making sure that never happens again. My plan will empower rural voters and will focus on getting them to turn out for the Democratic Party. Democratic values - empowering working people, supporting local communities, and standing up to corporate special interests - are rural values. I want every rural voter across America to know that we care about them and that we'll always fight for them."

"For Democrats to win in rural America, we have to compete in a meaningful way,” said Montana Democratic Party State Chair Jim Larson. “That means not writing off entire states or counties. We can win in places we never imagined if we only provided the resources and staff. The Democratic Party is the party of working people, so it's only right we go wherever they are. Keith's plan is the way forward, and it is how we win in Montana and all across rural America.

"This is a serious plan for the investment and attention rural America deserves from the Democratic Party,” said Ranking Member of the House Agriculture Committee Congressman Collin Peterson. “While Keith represents an urban and suburban Minnesota district, he makes a great hunting companion and he got a hero's welcome in my rural Minnesota district last year as the keynote speaker for our local Democratic party. That's because he knows Democrats can win anywhere if we focus on grassroots campaigning and our shared values."

"Heartland Democrats cannot turn around our state parties without the resources we need to compete,” said Nebraska Democratic Party State Chair Jane Kleeb. “Under Keith's leadership the DNC’s top priority will be organizing 365 days a year at the state and local levels while ensuring we have the tools to win elections. As an organizer myself, I know Keith not only respects the grassroots but has walked in our shoes.” 

"I have spent the better part of my life organizing in rural America and I know the best work is done with vision, values and a commitment to turn out every voter," said Former Executive Director of the League of Rural Voters Niel Ritchie. "This is something that Keith lives every day. His vision is inclusive - 3,143 counties prioritized by the DNC - with a value of all parts of our country and all people included. His track record: a commitment to turn out every vote. Keith is a tireless advocate and someone that rural communities can count on to bring the vision, values and commitment needed to take back our country."