Democrats Need To Reach Out To Rural, Suburban Voters, Party Leader Says | KERA News

Democrats Need To Reach Out To Rural, Suburban Voters, Party Leader Says

Jul 24, 2017

After last year’s presidential election, Democrats are in rebuilding mode in Texas and across the country. Democrats lost the White House and they’re the minority in Congress and in most statehouses. In Texas, the last time a Democrat won statewide office was in 1994. Despite all of this, Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez is optimistic.

Perez, a former labor secretary and assistant attorney general in the Obama administration, sat down with KERA on a swing through Texas last week.

He called the Texas visit a house call, and said it was a chance to listen to Democrats across the state to hear what they need from the national party. The DNC is pouring more resources into state and local party operations across the country. Perez says that’s the key to a nationwide Democratic comeback.

Interview Highlights: Tom Perez on ...

Resistance Summer, the Democratic organizing initiative:

“We haven’t done a good enough job as Democrats of engaging people 12 months a year, not just in the sprint run-up to an election ... and that’s what we’re doing. That’s what Resistance Summer is about. It’s not just resistance; it’s persistence, and putting our values out there.”

The values that Democrats support:

“We’re fighting for shared prosperity for everyone, not just those at the top. … We focus on the issues that matter most for people. They want a good education; they want a job that pays a middle-class wage; they want to make sure if they get sick or their kids get sick, if they develop diabetes, that that’s not a death sentence because they can get access to affordable health insurance; they want to retire in dignity.”

Expanding outreach to voters in red states:

“Texas, frankly, has been a flyover state for Democrats. They come here, they raise money, it’s an ATM machine, they go home. ... We’ve got to touch the rural parts of the state, the exurban parts of the state, and continue the progress here in Dallas and get out there in Tarrant County to say, 'You know what, folks, your values are our values.’ But if you don’t show up, you’re not going to succeed.”

Voting rights and opposition to GOP voter ID efforts and redistricting plans:

“Why can’t we have a fair fight in the marketplace of ideas? If you believe that your ideas command the respect and support of a majority of people, then I respect that judgment. But let’s have that pitched debate, and let’s make it as easy as possible for eligible voters to vote. … But here in Texas, [Republican lawmakers] do just the opposite.”

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Listen to KERA's full interview with DNC Chairman Tom Perez:

KERA reached out to Tom Perez’s counterpart in the Republican National Committee, Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, and invited her to sit down for a conversation the next time she’s in North Texas.