Paul Davis has a simple formula for winning over President Donald Trump’s supporters in his Kansas race for Congress: He talks about kitchen table issues, like prescription drug prices and farm tariffs.
And he is in no hurry to announce he’s a Democrat.
Davis and other party moderates believe that neglected rural and working-class voters in Midwestern districts helped cost Democrats the 2016 election.
Trump won, they note, with strong support from socially conservative voters in Midwestern states, including many who used to vote Democratic.
“Democrats, nationally, have not had a message or policies that have really connected with Midwestern voters, and that’s why we have lost elections here in recent years,” said Davis, a candidate in the Democratic primary for the House of Representatives in Kansas’ second district.
Now Davis and other moderate Democrats are trying to woo those voters back, and the party’s hopes in the November election could rest on their success.
The battle for the House of Representatives is increasingly focused on places like Kansas’ second, which includes the state capital Topeka and the university town of Lawrence but also large wheat and soybean farms.
Democrats will likely have to take some Republican-leaning districts like this one to recapture the house, and doing so will require winning over Trump voters.
Interviews with about 20 Democratic lawmakers, candidates, strategists and campaign volunteers found that a growing number of Democrats are trying to do just that.
But calls to woo Trump supporters are not sitting well with some party loyalists. Liberals say the party needs to stick to its core values on issues such as abortion, immigration and gun control. They say outreach to Trump voters risks wasting precious campaign resources needed to keep core supporters fired up and determined to vote in November.
Avis Jones-DeWeever, an African-American activist, says that courting Trump supporters is like chasing “fool’s gold” and worries her party is “obsessed” with bringing
them back into the fold. — Reuters
Susan Cornwell AND James Oliphant