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Rural Organizing Proves Essential to Democrat Andy Beshear’s Victory in the Kentucky Governor’s Race

Columbus, OH—One year out from the 2020 election — as political pundits highlight the critical role small town and rural voters will play in President Donald Trump’s re-election strategy — Democrat Andy Beshear’s come-from-behind win in the Kentucky Governor’s race proves that smart, inclusive rural organizing must be included in every statewide red state campaign. Ahead of election night, RuralOrganizing.org worked through an independent expenditure to turn out progressive rural voters  in all corners of the state — in 45 precincts and 41 counties — including PikeBullitt, and Knott.

According to Matthew Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.org,

Andy Beshear's victory in the Kentucky Governor's race is a huge win for rural progressives in the state and for anyone who cares about rebuilding small towns and rural communities. Our Kentucky team mobilized and worked tirelessly to make sure progressives turned out to vote in small towns and rural communities across the state. During the last month alone, we made over 8,455 phone calls and placed 1,200 yard signs.

We know rural engagement works and cutting Democratic margins in Rural Kentucky was a critical part of Andy Beshear's success. But for us, the Kentucky Governor’s race was just the start. We are taking the lessons we learned in Kentucky and using them to mobilize thousands of rural progressives in critical battleground states across the country. We’re still one year out from the 2020 election and  network of over 150,000 advocates for rural America are fired up and ready to go. Andy Beshear’s victory proves that smart, inclusive rural organizing must be included in every red state campaign. 

Next Monday, RuralOrganizing.org is launching its 2020 nationwide campaign in Iowa. More information can be found here.

The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

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Bluegrass Band Releases Inspiring Music Video Highlighting Undocumented Immigrants In North Carolina

Columbus, OH—Che Apalache, a bluegrass band featuring three powerhouse Latin American musicians and North Carolina native, Joe Troop, recently released a music video for their latest  single “The Dreamer” which appears on their new album, “Rearrange My Heart,” produced by famed banjo player and cross-genre trailblazer Béla Fleck.

The music video features the story of Moisés Serrano, an openly undocumented and queer DACA recipient and community leader from North Carolina. Since coming out as undocumented in 2010, Serrano has relentlessly pursued equality for his community through the sharing of his story. Moisés’ advocacy has been filmed in the feature length documentary, Forbidden: Undocumented & Queer in Rural America and he also co-wrote the script for “The Dreamer” music video.

The following is a statement by Matt Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.org.

Che Apalache is bluegrass band that looks more like the true rural America than the simple cliches too often portrayed in the media. Our small towns and rural communities are so lucky to have leaders like Moisés who are fighting everyday for their hometowns. “The Dreamer” represents the stories of so many rural people today. A third of new rural residents in the United States today were born in another country.

Che Apalache will perform at the RuralOrganizing.org launch party on November 11, 2019 in Sioux Center, Iowa. More information about the launch party can be found here.

For more information about the queer Latinx community in rural communities, see this  new report recently released by the Movement Advancement Project.

 The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

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Matthew Hildreth Named Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.org

Columbus, OH— RuralOrganizing.org announced today that Matthew Hildreth has been named executive director of the organization dedicated to rebuilding a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Hildreth previously served as the board chair of the organization.

RuralOrganazing.org is hosting a Launch Party on November 11, 2019 in Sioux Center, Iowa featuring a concert with Che Apalache and The Ruralists. The public is invited to the event.

According to Nick Levendofsky, Board Chair of RuralOrganizing.org

"I am pleased to welcome Matt as RuralOrganizing.org's first Executive Director. Since the beginning of RuralOrganizingl.org , Matt has been instrumental in highlighting and advocating for rural citizens and issues from across America, and we look forward to continuing that good work with him in the future."

According to Matthew Hildreth, Executive Director of RuralOrganizing.org:

I’m really honored to step into this new role with RuralOrganizing.org. Last year when we launched our organization, I never would have imagined we’d accomplish so much in such a short amount of time. Our network has grown to over 150,000 advocates and nearly 1,000 civic leaders working locally and nationally to enact progressive policy reforms to rebuild rural America. Now it’s time to take our work to the next level and move from a volunteer-based team to fully staffed organization. As we enter the new phase of our work, we will remain committed to pursuing creativity, equity, and justice at all organizational levels and throughout all our programs. 

Hildreth  grew up on a small farm in eastern South Dakota and is a graduate of Bethel University in St. Paul, Minnesota where he studied Philosophy and Communications. He earned a Master’s Degree in Strategic Communication from the University of Iowa and holds an Executive Education Certificate from Harvard University’s Leadership, Organizing and Action program.

For nearly a decade, Hildreth’s work focused on leveraging digital technologies to motivate key constituencies toward greater civic engagement on issues relating to migration and social cohesion. He served as the Digital Director, Political Director, and Director of New Initiatives at America’s Voice where he led a team dedicated to fighting white nationalism and white supremacy online, offline, and in politics.

Prior to his time at America’s Voice, Hildreth spent three years as the Interactive Media Producer for Sojourners — the largest network of progressive Christians in America — where he successfully developed innovative techniques for engaging online constituents.

The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

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Progressives Need To Make Gains In Rural Communities. Our New Poll Shows How They Can.

Rural Americans want rural-specific solutions to rural-specific problems and the policies that they support come straight out of the Progressive platform. Progressives should lean into them.

Columbus, OH—New national polling released this week commissioned by RuralOrganizing.org shows that rural support for Donald Trump is down since the 2016 election, yet Democrats still aren’t picking up rural voter support. 

According to the 2018 National Rural Survey, over 50 percent (52%) of rural respondents approve of Donald Trump’s job performance, and when  it comes to generic House candidates, Republicans hold a ten point margin over Democrats (43-33). Polling also shows that 1 in 5 rural residents are still undecided on the 2018 House race.

However, results also challenge much of the conventional wisdom about small towns and rural communities: Rural voters lean to the Left when it comes to healthcare, education, the economy, income inequality, and corporate money in politics. 

  • A strong majority (77%) of rural residents think Congress is giving tax breaks to the wealthy instead of investing in rural areas

  • Over 75% agree that politicians blame new immigrants or people of color to divide and distract us from the real source of our problems, instead of delivering for working people

  • Two thirds (67%) support offering free tuition to local community colleges and trade schools

  • A similar number (64%) want Medicare to cover all Americans

  • Over half (54%) support increasing the minimum wage to $15 an hour

  •  Only 38 percent support outlawing abortions

View the results here.

The following is a statement from Matt Hildreth, Board Chair of RuralOrganizing.org.

Nearly all participants in our survey (94%) said the rural and small-town way of life is worth fighting for, and the solutions they support for rebuilding rural communities come straight from the Progressive platform. However, our numbers show that the majority of rural Americans still feel that Democrats aren’t fighting for them.

Small town folks know well that the system is rigged for the powerful and wealthy.  Progressives should embrace a populist, pro-democratic, message that celebrates rural life, rejects big money in politics, calls out race-based strategies of division, expands access to programs like Medicare, and favors small businesses over major corporations.

Over 90 percent of rural Americans think we should invest in small, local businesses and protect rural schools from closing. Over 85 percent  think we should protect hunting and fishing habitats through smart land management policies, and pass policies that support rural grocery stores, pharmacies, and clinics. Three out of four rural residents want individuals with drug addictions sent to rehabilitation centers instead of prisons. Two thirds (67%) support offering free tuition to local community colleges and trade schools and a similar number (64%) want Medicare to cover all Americans.

The mission of RuralOrganizing.org  is to rebuild a rural America that is empowered, thriving, and equitable. Follow us on Twitter @RuralOrganizing.

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