Published April 29, 2019
WASHINGTON — Former Senators Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from North Dakota, served on the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Joe Donnelly launched a new initiative today – the One Country Project. Headed by Heitkamp, Donnelly, and a growing board, One Country will reengage with rural America, highlight Trump’s failures in the Heartland, and create a clearinghouse for research and information to help advance policies to create more opportunity in rural communities.
Sen. Heitkamp stopped by powwows during her re-election campaign.
“Rural Americans need leaders who will be champions of rural opportunity. Too many rural voters have dismissed Democrats as an alternative to Republican rule. We’ve seen this erosion of support decimate Democrats in states that were once considered safely blue and take states Democrats are trying to put in play further off the map,” said Heitkamp. “While the party has given up on rural America, it cannot be clearer how Donald Trump has failed this part of the country. From jobs to health care to education – rural America is being left behind. One Country will reopen the dialogue with rural America, rebuild trust, advocate for enhanced rural opportunity, and hold President Trump accountable. It’s about time he is forced to defend his broken promises in the Heartland.”
- The Democratic Party has won 5 of the last 6 presidential popular votes, but 2 of those resulted in electoral college defeats, including after a 2.1% popular vote win in 2016 — delivering the presidency to Trump.
- The massive decline in support for Democrats in rural counties in critical states – including Pennsylvania (-46), Michigan (-28), and Wisconsin (-20) – prevented Democratic victory. This is despite Democrats reaching or exceeding their goal in urban areas.
- The party’s increasing appeal to voters in base states could add popular votes in 2020, but it does little to smooth the path to victory. Regaining a foothold in rural areas will help put more states back on the table and turn our votes into wins.
The One Country Project will help to reestablish an enduring bond with non-metropolitan communities by promoting an agenda to increase opportunity and improve the quality of life for rural Americans. Under the leadership of Senator Heidi Heitkamp and an array of local rural leaders who represent their communities, One Country will engage in the following activities:
- Data Project: One Country will create a library on rural opinion, voter makeup, demographics, turnout, long-term trends, and issue salience by combining data, observations, and case studies to shed light on the aspirations of rural communities.
- Network: One Country will build a network comprised of local advisors and community advocates to engage in active communications, media engagement, and thought leadership, creating a pipeline of advocates for rural interests.
- Clearinghouse: One Country will use our rural community knowledge to construct an education program for current and future leaders who hope to serve and promote rural interests by providing insight about what rural Americans expect from their representatives in government.