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Some Rural Democrats Feel They're Being Forgotten Ahead of Election Day

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With Election Day looming, the Rockbridge County Democratic chairman resigned last week after what he says were months of neglect of rural voters by the Democratic Party of Virginia.

Ignored emails, outdated phone lists, zero door-to-door canvassing—three reasons why Rockbridge County Democratic Chairman Jay Clarke has had it with party leaders in Richmond.

“Frankly, it’s insulting we’re not even considered important enough even to be paid attention to,” he says. “The state party has taken the attitude that the votes are in Northern Virginia, Richmond and Tidewater and that western Virginia is a tough nut to crack.”

His grievance underscores the feeling among some voters that Democrats will continue to lose many legislative and local elections until they forge deeper relationships with rural voters. But the resignation didn’t last long. Party officials convinced Clarke Election Day was too close to quit, and that more support was on the way. He agreed to stay on.

Vee Frye is chair of the state party’s rural caucus. She says reaching those voters is a key part of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam’s strategy.

“People learned their lesson in November,” she says. “We’re getting lots and lots of help. Ralph Northam, his office, is the reason we have a rural caucus in Virginia.”

Democrats will find out if those inroads have been successful November 7th.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.