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Tom Vilsack

Former Iowa governor and USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack is surrounded by cameras as he speaks to the media after delivering remarks to the Iowa delegation to the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia in this 2016 file photo.

Tom Vilsack has joined a nationwide effort to help spread the liberal message in rural America in advance of the 2018 midterm elections.

Vilsack, the secretary of agriculture in the Obama administration and a former Iowa governor, is being joined in the effort by former former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, of South Dakota, and ex-Sen. Mary Landrieu, of Louisiana. The three are to be honorary co-chairs of Rural Forward, which was formed in the aftermath of the 2016 election.

The group is announcing its formal launch today.

President Donald Trump won the 2016 presidential election with big margins in rural America, and Democrats and progressive groups have been working to bring voters back to their side since then.

“From broadband to rural electrification and renewable energy and from infrastructure to access to health care, rural America has benefited from more than a half century of progressive policies championed primarily by Democrats,” former North Carolina congressman Bob Etheridge, chair of Rural Forward’s board, said in a statement.

Etheridge and John Whitaker, a former state representative from Iowa, helped found the group.

Rural Forward says that it plans to hold town hall meetings and engage rural audiences over social media, supporting like-minded candidates and policies.

Vilsack, Landrieu and Daschle will be involved in promoting the group’s work.

Rural Forward is a 501(c)(4) non-profit organization.

Such groups have been heavily involved in recent years in political campaigns, though federal law says that politics cannot be their primary function. Rural Forward says it will be involved in advocating for progressive policies in rural America with elected officials.

Quad-City Times​

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