DNC - Dems send aid into traditionally GOP 'exurbs'

Washington, DC--Today the Associated Press details how Democrats are reaching out and organizing in areas not considered Democratic ground, "giving the party hope it can win battleground states by at least diluting these local Republican strongholds…" Leading the effort, the Democratic National Committee under Chairman Howard Dean has made significant investments in many of these states where Democrats have suffered major losses in the past, such as Kentucky and Mississippi, helping to fuel recent victories for Democratic candidates. Democrats across the country are already reaping the benefits of this "long-range planning" and are well-poised to make large gains in these traditionally-Republican areas come November.

The following are excerpts of today's story:

Dems send aid into traditionally GOP 'exurbs'

By Philip Elliott
Associated Press
June 11, 2008

"Housing tracts in farm fields aren't the only odd sights showing up in spreading exurbs like this one north of Columbus. Democrats are venturing out here, too, giving the party hope it can win battleground states by at least diluting these local Republican strongholds they know they can't win outright…National Democrats, sensing an opportunity, have started sending campaign workers into these fast-developing areas, where Democrats got blown out in 2004. 'The exurb counties are going to be critical,' says Ed Helvy, chairman of the Democratic Party here in Delaware County. Four years ago, he says, John Kerry steered clear of such areas, 'thought he could just grow the base and win the election and that didn't happen…'

"So Democrats in battleground states and those that are less competitive have sent resources into these places. Reliably red Indiana added a Democratic spokesman to challenge the Republicans who control the governor's office and the state House. In Kentucky, a state President Bush carried by 20 percentage points in 2004, the Democratic National Committee funded three staffers' salaries. 'In 2006, we took back a congressional seat, against all odds, away from a 10-year Republican incumbent,' said Tim Longmeyer, chairman of the Louisville Democratic Party. 'If you can cut loss margins in certain areas and pull out Democratic voters in areas that haven't really been tapped in recent years and increase the margins of wins, you can flip them.'

"There's similar long-range planning in Mississippi, where the state party used to have just one staffer. The DNC funded four new full-time positions and took back the state Senate in 2007. Mississippi Democrats, who saw Kerry lose by 19 points in 2004, won four of five special elections in state legislative races during the past two years…Yet in central Ohio's Delaware County, where Republicans have all three county commissioners' seats, Democrats are trying to mount some form of opposition. They put forward a full slate of candidates and have a second-floor office downtown. The long-term plans, here and nationwide, are to build a bench for Democrats: A local candidate becomes a county commissioner, who later becomes a state representative, who later is elected to the U.S. House, who later becomes a governor or U.S. senator."

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