Tennessee Democrats plan to reach out to rural voters

Hendrell Remus
Posted at 10:15 PM, Feb 09, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-10 07:01:28-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The chair of the Tennessee Democratic Party, Hendrell Remus, says he admits the party needs to do a better job connecting with rural voters, especially now that state Republicans have carved up Nashville into three congressional districts, all incorporating several rural, conservative-leaning counties.

"Democrats for a long time have been disorganized, we hadn't made the type of investments we needed to make across the state," Hendrell said.

Retiring Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper leveled some of the same criticism in an article published this week in the Nashville Scene, saying in part:

"What they have to do is genuinely love their brothers and sisters who live outside of Nashville," and "You have to have mutual respect and trust."

And Remus says he agrees.

"It's about making sure that people understand that despite our differences, there's a whole lot more that we have in common," Remus said.

But on Wednesday, the Tennessee Democratic Party hosted a livestream, with Aftyn Behn, a campaign director from, talking about how to get votes in rural counties for Democratic congressional candidates.

"Myself, who lives in East Nashville, can now organize with folks in Cookeville to oust [Republican Congressman] John Rose who's a P.O.S.," said Behn.

"What kind of unity and trust does a phrase like that build?" NewsChannel 5 asked Remus.

"I think that language is kind of hot, it's inflammatory, but at the end of the day, there's probably folks, in rural areas who probably feel the same way," Remus said. "If you look at the conditions that some of these people have been left in after repeatedly electing some of these folks representing rural areas, and whose lives really truly haven't gotten better."

Remus says the focus will be on Democrats who live in the rural counties connecting one-on-one with people they know, on issues like rural hospitals that have closed down across the state, and other issues that conservatives tend to gravitate toward.

"If you're a gun owner, we're going to protect your Second Amendment, but we want to make sure you're not having to pawn your gun around the holidays to put a meal on the table for your family," Remus said.