Wednesday, November 30, 2022

On the LGBTQ experience in "red" California

Hailey Branson-Potts reports for the Los Angeles Times.  Here's an excerpt: 
After five people were shot dead in a gay nightclub in Colorado Springs, Colo., Matthew Grigsby thought about Club 501.

It was the only gay bar in Redding, a Northern California city of 93,000 that, like Colorado Springs, is deeply religious and conservative.

There, Grigsby felt comfortable holding hands or dancing with another man.

Club 501 closed this summer, leaving Grigsby and other LGBTQ people without a place where they could be themselves. The news from Club Q in Colorado Springs was another gut punch.

“There’s no safe place anywhere,” Grigsby, 53, said, his voice shaking. “It doesn’t matter where we are or what we do. People are going to come for us.”

In politically red stretches of California — from the old logging towns in the north through the dusty farmlands of the Central Valley — the Colorado Springs massacre was yet another devastating reminder of how difficult and lonely it can be to be queer in conservative America.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Longing for one's rural roots

The New York Times published a fascinating piece this week on the challenges facing baby boomers and Gen X'ers as they age, while living alone.  One of the folks featured was Mary Felder, who owns a home in the Strawberry Mansion area of Philadelphia.  Her very urban present implicates a rural past that she's started to long for:
Mary Felder, 65, raised her children, now grown, in her rowhouse in Philadelphia. Her home has plenty of space for one person, but upkeep is expensive on the century-old house.
* * *
The constraints are especially severe for many older Black Americans, for whom the legacy of redlining and segregation has meant that homeownership has not generated as much wealth. The percentage of people living alone in large houses is highest in many low-income, historically Black neighborhoods. In those areas, many homes are owned by single, older women.

One of them is Ms. Felder of Strawberry Mansion, a neighborhood in Philadelphia. She and her ex-husband bought their two-story brick rowhouse in the mid-1990s for a song, after it was damaged in a fire.

While raising three children, Ms. Felder worked a series of jobs, including retail, hotel housekeeping and airport security. She retired in 2008 and has lived by herself for more than a decade, though her sisters, children and grandchildren live nearby.

Maintaining her home is a challenge. In rainstorms, she sometimes had to use every piece of fabric in the house to sop up water pouring down a kitchen wall. And she worries about her safety.

At times, she dreams about relocating to small-town South Carolina, where she was born and raised.

She imagines a small home there, perhaps even a trailer.

But the median value of a home in her neighborhood was $59,000, according to recent census data. Ms. Felder thinks she could sell her house and net about $40,000.

“That’s not enough” to retire down south, she said, sighing, sitting in her living room filled with plants.

Ms. Felder is a fixture in her neighborhood, keeping watch over it, and has received help from Habitat for Humanity to repair her roof.

But in September, living alone became harder.

While she was cleaning the trash out of a nearby alley with neighbors, a masked gunman looked her in the eyes and shot her twice in the legs.

Ms. Felder had no clue who shot her, and there has been no arrest. She recovered at her daughter’s home across town, where the ground floor has a bedroom and bathroom, unlike in her own house.

Felder still has not spent a night in her house in Strawberry Mansion because she is afraid.

Monday, November 28, 2022

States steering more money to rural roads

That's from a Pew Report published earlier this month. An excerpt follows: 
[A] growing number of states have been focusing their attention on improving rural roads.

Many rural roads carry heavy trucks and farm equipment, and some haven’t been repaved in decades, transportation officials say. With many state budgets healthy and new money arriving from the federal COVID-19 stimulus and bipartisan infrastructure laws, states are spending more.
In June, for example, Maine Democratic Gov. Janet Mills touted a $9.2 million project to revitalize the rural highway corridors that lead to the state’s western mountains, where several ski slopes are located.

In Texas, the Department of Transportation plans to invest $14 billion over the next decade on rural projects. That’s a 600% hike in planned rural funding compared with just seven years ago, according to Alvin New, a Texas Transportation Commission member.

And in Oklahoma, transportation officials received a $41.5 million federal loan earlier this year; it will fund nearly half the cost of a rural safety improvement project in eight counties.

“Rural areas are absolutely critical to the functioning of the nation’s economy, and you need a safe, reliable transportation network,” said Rocky Moretti, director of policy and research at TRIP, a nonprofit transportation research organization headquartered in Washington, D.C. “If the system deteriorates to the point that it becomes difficult to move trucks that carry food and products, that’s a big problem.”

And for the tens of millions of residents who live in rural communities and use those roads for commuting, shopping, going to school and medical appointments, it’s critical that the roads are in decent condition, Moretti said.

“The worse the shape the roads are in, the more the cost of operating a vehicle increases,” he said. “That impacts the consumer.”

An October report by TRIP noted that the United States faces a $109 billion backlog for rural road and highway rehabilitation, such as repaving and reconstruction, and a $36 billion backlog for rural roadway enhancements, such as safety improvements.

The report said that in 2020, 12% of major rural roads were rated in poor condition, 19% in mediocre condition and 17% in fair condition.

The report called America’s rural transportation system “the first and last link” in the supply chain from farm to market. It said the supply chain issues that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic heightened the importance of the rural road system when it comes to moving goods and products.

“As the nation’s major rural roads and highways continue to age, they will reach a point where routine paving and maintenance will not be adequate to keep pavement surfaces in good condition and costly reconstruction of the roadway and its underlying surfaces will become necessary,” the report stated.

And here's a piece on transportation issues in rural Montana, this one about how to better serve veterans in accessing health care through the VA.   

Here's a recent Washington Post piece on the prospect of paving a long Australian road, the Outback Way, which runs from Laverton to Winton. Some 750 miles of it are still unpaved.    

Yesterday, the New York Times started covering the latest data on U.S. traffic deaths

Friday, November 25, 2022

Sacramento Bee publishes op-ed on California's rural mental health crisis

The author is Inyo County supervisor Matt Kingsley, who is also Delegate to the Rural County Representatives of California.  He writes under the headline, "A California crisis: Too many rural communities have no access to mental health treatment."  
In rural California, where behavioral health provider availability already ranges from limited to nonexistent across large expanses of geography, the care crisis is particularly challenging. To ensure everyone in California has access to care, we need to invest in the behavioral health workforce, infrastructure and systems of the state’s rural communities.

Across rural areas, health care and behavioral health care facilities are often limited in number. This is due in part to financing restrictions that have diminished the ability of rural local governments to invest in providing the full continuum of treatment services.

Additionally, some rural areas have no community-based organizations to assist in providing behavioral health services. My county, Inyo, has a federally qualified health care center and an Indian Health Service provider in the town of Bishop. The rest of the county’s 10,000 square miles are underserved or completely unserved by a qualified health center or community-based organization. High job vacancy rates among rural mental health care providers add to this access disparity. As of fiscal 2021, 33 rural California counties were designated as having mental health professional shortage areas. With little behavioral health infrastructure and housing availability, the capacity to build the workforce in rural areas is limited.

This is exacerbated by high burnout and turnover rates among the small number of county behavioral health employees who are tasked with providing 24-hour crisis response on top of direct services to severely mentally ill people. In rural counties, these cases are complicated by significantly constrained placement options, sometimes requiring county staff to transport people in crisis across several hundred miles for stabilization.

* * *
Addressing the mental health crisis in rural communities requires strategies such as loan forgiveness programs to build the necessary behavioral health infrastructure and workforce. Targeting such investments to underserved communities can help ensure that we serve the health care needs of vulnerable people in rural communities where the need is dire.

I note that Republican Kevin Kiley has just been declared the winner in California's 3d congressional district, which includes Inyo County and the rest of the eastern Sierra, along with many other rural counties.  In fact, Kiley's district stretches some 450 miles from north to south.  It'll be interesting to see if he supports the sort of government interventions that supervisor Kingsley is pleading for in his op-ed.

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Ranked-choice vote counting done, Mary Peltola (D) and Lisa Murkowski (R) win in Alaska

Photos from Mary Peltola's twitter feed on
November 24, 2022, day after she was declared winner of 2022 midterm
one side of her mug says "made of salmon" and the other is
"Mary Peltola for Congress"
Here's the story about Peltola, about whom I've previously written here.  Peltola is from rural Bethel, and she talks rural--as well as fish--a lot.  Here's her tweet from the morning after her victory was declared, from which I took the photos above.  Here's another fun Peltola tweet reflecting her pro-fish campaign; it features dancing crabs. 

And here's the NYTimes story about Lisa Murkowski, who defeated fellow Republican Kelly Tshibaka, who was backed by Trump.  Democrat Pat Chesbro garnered nearly 10% of the vote in the first round of the state's rank-choice voting, which takes into account voters' second choices if no candidate gets more than 50% of the vote in the first round. 

Murkowski now begins her fourth full term in the Senate.  Peltola has now earned her first full term in Congress.  As she did in this election, Peltola also defeated Sarah Palin and Nick Begich back in August to fill the seat Don Young (R) had held for nearly five decades.  Young died in March.  

Here is the Washington Post's coverage of these Alaska wins.  Of Peltola, Nathaniel Herz writes: 
Peltola ran a locally focused campaign with both traditional and unconventional Democratic platform planks — she touted her support for abortion rights and “pro-fish” views, along with her endorsement of a new Alaska oil project and the large gun collection that she and her family maintains.

This Washington Post story also has a good explanation of rank-choice voting, and its short history in Alaska.   

Postscript:  Here's an AP piece on the bipartisan coalition that will govern the Alaska legislature after the recent elections.  The lede follows: 

The Alaska state Senate will have a coalition of Democrats and Republicans serving as a majority caucus next January, officials announced. Friday.

The coalition will include nine Democrats and eight Republicans, leaving three members of the 20-seat chamber in the minority.

Gary Stevens, a Republican from Kodiak, will serve as Senate president. Among other leadership positions include Bill Wielechowski, an Anchorage Democrat, as Senate rules chair, and Cathy Giessel, a Republican who previously served as the body’s president and regained her Senate seat in this year’s election, as majority leader.

More analysis of the rural vote, this time from Mr. Rural

"Mr. Rural" is the Twitter handle of Matt Barron, a political consultant based in western Massachusetts.  He published this reflection on the 2022 Midterms a few days ago in the Daily Yonder.  A few highlights follow:  

First, on John Fetterman, who won the U.S. Senate seat from Pennsylvania:
Fetterman’s “Every county, every vote” strategy involved his repeated trips to all 48 rural counties in the Keystone State. Although he only won two rural counties, Centre County (home of Penn State University) and Monroe County, that candidate face time paid off as Fetterman moved the needle by improving on President Biden’s rural vote in the state by three points – from 26 to 29%.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette said it best: “Mr. Fetterman’s victory could offer the Democratic Party a new pathway to assembling a winning coalition in an electorate that’s undergone fundamental shifts since Mr. Trump’s surprise win in the 2016 presidential election. He has long advocated campaigning in deep-red areas full of white, working-class voters that have shifted toward the GOP in recent decades, not to win majorities there but to cut into Republican advantages by splitting their voting coalitions.”

Of course, I wrote about Fetterman's rural strategy several months ago, here and here.   

Barron continues with another example of a "good" rural strategy:

North Carolina Democratic Party Spotlights Representative Budd’s Anti-Rural Record

Many state Democratic parties don’t lift a finger to expose the voting records of Republicans with respect to how they screw over rural constituencies in their states and districts. This is important because most county-level parties and rural caucuses lack the specific information with which to write informed letters to the editor or post cool memes to social media platforms or lob-biting calls to talk radio shows that can skewer these GOPers for these votes.

But the North Carolina Democratic Party issued a series of press releases that shadowed Representative Ted Budd, the Republican nominee for Senate, as he fundraised across the state, like this one in Greenville that slammed him for voting against a series of programs and projects aimed at rural needs in the area.

Barron then turns to the bad, highlighting a blunder by Congresswoman Susan Wild in Pennsylvania, who faced a "tough re-election after rural and Republican leaning Carbon County was added to her Lehigh Valley district centered in Allentown:
During a virtual meet and greet on July 18, Wild said “Carbon County has many attributes, but it is a county that – although it was once an Obama county – it since has become a Trump county,” she said. “I’m not quite sure what was in their heads because the people of Carbon County are exactly the kind of people who should not be voting for a Donald Trump, but I guess I might have to school them on that a little bit.”


In playing the elitist card, Wild might as well have told her audience that her favorite perfume is Eau de I’m-better-than-you. But these kinds of intemperate cracks go viral very fast and contribute to the continuing damage of the Democratic brand across rural America. Wild wound up winning her race by 1.6% or just over 4,700 votes and (full disclosure) I produced digital and print ads for My Rural America Action Fund as an independent expenditure which were all targeted at voters in Carbon County and three rural hamlets in southwest Monroe County to try and keep her losing margin manageable in the new turf.
This part, "the bad," also includes vignettes from Texas and Taiwan (yes, Taiwan). 

And then there's "the ugly," which focuses on Wisconsin and Democrat Mandela Barnes failed attempt to oust Republican Ron Johnson, who had plenty of liabilities--including a July 4 spent in Moscow several years ago.  Here's Barron's analysis: 
The Senate race in the Badger State offered Democrats their best chance to unseat a sitting Republican – two-term incumbent Ron Johnson, who won his 2010 and 2016 races over Russ Feingold by margins of 51.9 and 50.2%. Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes emerged from the Democratic primary as the nominee carrying all kinds of baggage from his stands on defunding police and abolishing ICE. September was a pivotal month for Barnes as he was napalmed by an onslaught of attack ads from the Senate Leadership Fund (the super PAC allied with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell). Barnes never recovered and Ron Johnson eked out a 50.4% win.

Barnes swept the vote in large and medium metro areas, rolling up margins of two to one or more in those urban demographics. But Johnson dominated in the suburbs and got his highest vote share of more than 61% in the rural counties which comprise a third of the state’s voters. Democrats would have been smart to clear the field for Tom Nelson a former state legislator and county executive from Outagamie County who had all the progressive bona fides without Barnes’s liabilities.

Most of the Barnes attacks on Johnson were centered on abortion and saving democracy with some chunks of red meat on Social Security and Medicare. Like Feingold before him, Barnes failed to prosecute Johnson’s abysmal record on issues of concern to rural communities such as the fact that Johnson voted against the Farm Bill three times in 2012-2013, opposed reforming federal milk marketing orders so important to “America’s Dairyland,” and voted against reauthorizing the Secure Rural Schools Act to provide full funding for Payments In-Lieu of Taxes for the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest which covers more than 1.5 million acres of Wisconsin’s Northwoods.

Barnes also never hit Johnson on his record with veterans.

Finally, there's this out of North Carolina, where Barron's focus is on the failure of Cheri Beasley's campaign to call out her opponent Ted Budd's failures to support the state's rural communities: 

But Beasley never laid a glove on Budd for a series of votes with a profound impact on rural North Carolinians. Some examples would be Budd’s 2019 vote against the Farm Workforce Modernization Act, a big deal as agriculture is the Tarheel State’s largest economic sector. Budd also voted against funding in 2019 for disaster aid for the victims of Hurricane Florence, which ravaged much of the eastern part state in late summer 2018. PFAS has contaminated drinking water supplies in Pender, Harnett, Chatham, and other rural counties but Beasley never made an issue of Budd’s 2020 vote against the PFAS Action Act to deal with these “forever chemicals.” In the last few years, North Carolina has received almost $53 million from USDA’s ReConnect rural broadband grant and loan program which has served more than 13,800 households for high-speed broadband infrastructure.

Wednesday, November 23, 2022

On rural Democrats' quest for a "seat at the table" in Michigan

Nancy Kaffer wrote in the Detroit Free Press this weekend under the headline "Michigan's rural Democrats want a seat at their party's table."

Cathy Albro has a difficult job: As the chair of the Michigan Democratic Party's Rural Caucus, it falls on Albro and the caucus' vice-chairs to convince the state's Democratic establishment that the counties and candidates in her caucus ― places Republicans routinely win by 20 and 30 points ― deserve more: a place in the state party's strategy, with the investment to back it up, and more attention from the new Democratic legislative majority in Lansing.

Rural Michigan Democrats are in a unique bind. The problems facing residents of rural Michigan counties ― insufficient access to health care, jobs and high-performing schools, or inadequate infrastructure, including broadband internet ― aren't so different from the ones the rest of the state confronts.

But rural Democrats don't have a voice. In the state Legislature and in the U.S. Congress, they are represented almost exclusively by Republican lawmakers who tend to oppose Democratic legislation even when it addresses their constituents' critical needs.

* * * 

Now, for the first time in nearly 40 years, Democrats who prioritize those policies hold a majority in in the state Legislature. But Albro and her caucus know that even a party ascendant has limited resources, and making the case for renewed party investment in the areas they represent is a long game.

Still, rural Democrats say, their party should be careful not to count them out, because it needs their votes to keep winning statewide offices.
Kaffer than goes on to detail how Governor Gretchen Whitmer's recent reelection is attributable, at least in part, to her ability to cut Republican margins in nonmetro counties.  The story quotes Mark Brewer, a former chair of the Michigan Democratic Party who acknowledges that the party won't win a lot of rural counties:  
But we can’t get blown out, either. We need to keep the margin as close as possible. If we just abandon rural areas and start losing them 70%-30%, it’s going to be hard to win a statewide contest.

And it is that story of margins that has been the focus in another race where Democrats performed better than they have recently in rural places:  Pennsylvania

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Rural America's crisis of reproductive health care

Akilah Johnson wrote this past weekend in the Washington Post under the headline, "In rural America, the crisis of disappearing reproductive care steals lives."  The dateline is Bangor, Maine, and an excerpt follows:

All the reasons people in this rural region seek reproductive care — and the barriers they must overcome in accessing it — were on full display from the moment the first patient stepped into this clinic nestled amid towering evergreens.

There was the 32-year-old struggling to pay out of pocket for a medication abortion because her credit card wouldn’t go through. A first-time patient who was referred to the Mabel Wadsworth Center — more than an hour from home — because her provider wasn’t sure how best to treat her disabling premenstrual syndrome. Another woman who developed hypertension while pregnant arrived to have her blood pressure checked. And a couple was there for their first prenatal visit.

The nation is in a maternal mortality and morbidity crisis that grows year after year and is particularly acute in rural communities, where it is normal for the nearest hospital to be a long drive away and poverty is too often prevalent.

Each year, tens of thousands of people experience unexpected pregnancy complications — cardiovascular issues, hypertension, diabetes — and about 700 die, making pregnancy and childbirth among the leading causes of death for teenage girls and women 15 to 44 years old. Black women are three times as likely to die as a result of pregnancy as White women, and Native American women are more than twice as likely to die, disparities that persist regardless of income, education and other socioeconomic factors.

Prior posts on this topic (based mostly on prior mainstream media reports) are here.  

Monday, November 21, 2022

A rural-urban food fight on Twitter

It started with this tweet by Patrick Kwan, a senior advisor to NYC Mayor Eric Adams:  

It says "Broccoli in our teeth?!  Joined a few @nycgov colleagues for an amazing vegan #plantbased Thanksgiving potluck."  It then lists what New York City government officers are represented at the gathering.  

Then came this reply from @NYFarmer, whose twitter bio reads: 

Female dairy farmer (4th generation), assistant to veterinarian, lawyer by day dedicated to defending family farms of the NY Foodshed, cheesemaker

By the way, she has 38K followers! 

The reply reads:  "You all have relentlessly dumped your daily garbage in upstate farm towns for decades.  Now you pontificate about your imported plant based food.  Hypocrites."  

And the next tweet follows on: 

"We used to picket your garbage convoys growing up, never did a bit of good.  We snuck into the local unlined landfill where NYC and NJ trucks dumped for decades to grab samples.  Took decades to shut down and finally cap.  Now, u bitch about our clean pastures.  Nervy." 

I don't know anything about the dumping of garbage in upstate New York, but I assume it is literal and thus refers to an environmental injustice--a way in which the urban uses the rural.  One reply, from a New York City sanitation official, reads: 

"I'm so glad we made change in our waste management systems.  Your activism made a big difference, though that was before my time.  I hope we can make the same kinds of long term changes in creating an agricultural system that is both economically and environmentally sustainable." 

That official, Joshua Goodman, has this Twitter bio: "Assistant Commissioner for Public Affairs
@NYCSanitation (personal account obvs)."

Finally, there is this from NY Farmer:  

"I doubt that even one could name the communities where their garbage ends up or the names of the communities and regions flooded in Canada that provides a chunk of power."

Sunday, November 20, 2022

More post-election commentary on the rural vote

The rural vote has garnered a surprising amount of attention since the November 9 election, but I'll highlight just a few recent essays and tweets in this post.  First, there is Robert Kuttner in The American Prospect writing under the headline, "The Rural Turnaround," which begins with some data:   

For decades, Democrats have been losing rural America by ever-worsening margins. If they could perform even 5 percent better in rural counties, the political landscape would be transformed. In the 2022 midterm, Democrats did increase their share of the rural vote in several states, and it’s worth exploring where and why.

After going over the "appalling" recent history, Kuttner gets to what I believe is the most interesting part of the piece: 

My doctoral student at Brandeis, Rachel Steele, has just completed a dissertation on Democrats and rural voters, which will be published as a book. With her permission, I’ll quote a couple of her important insights.

The most important is that Democrats have been losing the white working class, but place acts as an intensifier. If white working-class voters feel abandoned by the economy and disdained by liberal political elites, that is doubly true for working-class rural voters. Their communities as well as their livelihoods have been squandered, and they have had little evidence that Democrats cared. “Place itself has become political,” Steele writes. (emphasis mine)

As late as 2008, according to Steele’s tabulations, 139 rural white working-class counties voted Democratic. By 2016, that fell to six. In 2016, rural white working-class counties favored Trump by a margin of over 51 points. Much of the loss came in the Upper Midwest—Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota—where national elections and control of Congress are determined.

Steele’s extensive interviews with rural working-class voters also reveal a bitter paradox for Democrats. As good jobs have disappeared, people in communities that once took pride in their self-sufficiency express a broad sense that the work ethic has deteriorated along with the job loss. Instead of crediting Democrats for safety-net programs that save people from destitution, many rural working-class voters, who see their neighbors and their children on the dole, blame Democrats for eroding the work ethic.

IN 2022, THE BEST OF THE DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES resolved to reverse this syndrome. Just showing up turns out to be hugely important, as a sign of respect and commitment.

John Fetterman’s successful slogan and strategy was “Every County, Every Vote.” Fetterman improved upon Biden’s 2020 rural support by 2.4 percent. According to tabulations by the Daily Yonder, this swing, combined with higher rural turnout for Fetterman, resulted in a net rural gain over Biden of more than 110,000 votes.
The column also talks details of Michigan, Wisconsin and Kansas.  Kuttner cites to his own September piece about the role of rural organizers, a topic I've also taken up on this blog and in my own writing about the Democrats' lackluster effort to win back the rural vote.  
Among the most creative approaches I’ve seen to recruit activists and voters on the ground, especially in rural areas, is a group called Movement Labs, founded in 2017. Movement Labs provides data, technology, and strategy to help grassroots voter mobilization, especially in red and purple states and rural counties that Democrats tend to write off. One of their marquee projects is called Rural Power Lab.

* * *  

Another key insight is that affinity for the Democratic Party may be depressed in many rural areas, but it is far from extinct, and can be rebuilt.

The Nation also published a piece this week on the rural vote.  It's titled "Democrats Must Do Better in Rural America."  Here's an excerpt from the piece by Anthony Flaccavento, Erica Etelson and Cody Lonning:  

Rural races are different from urban and suburban races; running competitively in them requires a different approach in both style and substance. Two-thirds of rural voters hold Democrats in low esteem and are profoundly antagonized by liberal elites who scorn the “rubes of flyover country.” Though Democrats’ rural deficit runs deep, it’s important to remember that as recently as 2008, Barack Obama garnered 43 percent of rural votes. And this cycle, John Fetterman’s consistent presence in rural places produced a two-and-a-half-point improvement over the 2020 presidential race—enough for him to win statewide in Pennsylvania.

Can Democrats Succeed in Rural America?” describes more than a dozen strategies used by rural candidates and office holders, four of which we highlight here.
First, candidates must have local credibility. Whether through generational ties to the area or long-standing community involvement and problem solving, Democrats fare better when they have local roots and are fluent in the concerns and values of the people living there.

Second, candidates put local concerns and issues first, rather than trying to mobilize people around their own—or their party’s—policy agenda. ...[I]t means respecting voters enough to put their priorities at the center of the campaign. In so doing, candidates sometimes find meaningful ways to tackle state and national issues by drawing upon local experience, as when a candidate in rural Appalachia stood up for local businesses by fighting the outrageous subsidies used to recruit big box competitors.

Third, candidates and campaigns seek people where they are, rather than strictly following the advice to “go where the votes are.” Canvassing and phone-banking strategies typically focus on people who vote regularly and lean Democrat. By contrast, many of our study’s successful candidates reached out to people usually overlooked by campaigns.

Fourth, successful candidates listen more and talk less.
Fetterman’s victory might be uniquely instructive. He defeated a candidate, Mehmet Oz, who was conventionally stronger than those other Democrats’ opponents. 

* * *  

How this happened is illustrated by the [American Communities Project] data. Fetterman significantly reduced his opponent’s margins of victory — relative to Biden’s 2020 performance against Trump — in three types of counties where Trump has done extraordinarily well.

In the ACP’s taxonomy, those three county types are known as the Middle Suburbs, Working Class Country, and Rural Middle America.

The Middle Suburbs.  These types of suburban counties are Whiter and more working class than your typical inner-ring suburb, which tends to be more diverse, cosmopolitan and professional.

We often think of the suburbs as anti-Trump, but his large margins in Middle Suburbs across the country were key to his 2016 victory.
* * *
In Pennsylvania’s Middle Suburbs, Fetterman limited Oz’s margin of victory to 11 points, significantly down from the 15-point margin Trump racked up in 2020, according to ACP data provided to me.
* * * 
Working Class Country.  These counties are even Whiter than Middle Suburbs and tend to be rural and sparsely populated. They often have low college education rates.

In Pennsylvania’s Working Class Country counties, Fetterman shaved Oz’s margin of victory to 27 points, down from Trump’s 2020 margin of 36 points. Such counties include ones along the state’s northern border or in the southwest corner of the state, abutting West Virginia.

Rural Middle America.  These counties are also rural, but also tend to include a lot of small towns and smaller metro areas. They are somewhat less agriculture-dependent than Working Class Country.

In Pennsylvania’s Rural Middle America counties, Fetterman limited Oz’s gains to 31 points, down from Trump’s 37-point margin in 2020. As Chinni noted, nearly three dozen of these counties are spread throughout Pennsylvania’s vast heartland. 
Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi, long-time Speaker of the House, has indicated she will no longer seek to be part of the Democratic leadership.  This led to a few Tweets by Matt Barron, a political consultant whose Twitter handle is "Mr. Rural."  You can see these below.  The first is about the likely new house leadership, including Hakeem Jeffries of New York, Katherine Clark of Massachusetts, and Pete Aguilar of California.  

Matt Barron writes:  "So the new House Democratic Leadership will be from NY (45th most-rural state), MA (47th most-rural state) and CA (49th most-rural state).  Democrats really have become the party of the coasts."

The second Barron tweet is about Pelosi's failures:  "Great news.  This is the woman that disbanded the House Democratic Rural Working Group in 2011 and would not enable the creation of a Rural Desk at the DCCC.  Take Hoyer and Clyburn with ya."

Meanwhile, the 134 PAC in West Texas has been tweeting about future strategy for rural organizers, here and here:

The first says, "We aren't asking for resources from the central party as they have never provided any.  Our work is to raise the resources ourselves to do what the party does not or cannot do."
The second says:  "The priority for rural Democrats should be to forget about statewide and national elections and focus solely on building up our local organizations and communities."

Lastly, I'll just note that Adam Frisch (D), who ran against Lauren Boebert (R, incumbent) in mostly rural and exurban CO-03 (western and southern parts of the state), has conceded the race to Boebert.  He did so even though he lost by just about 500 votes and was entitled to a recount.  Indeed, NPR is reporting that the recount will go ahead regardless of Frish's concession--and that Frisch has already re-filed to run against Boebert again in 2024.

Cross-posted to Working-Class Whites and the Law.  

Postscript.  Here's a piece by George Goehl in Newsweek, and another about the rural vote by The National, from before the election.

Saturday, November 19, 2022

FERC approves removal of four dams on Klamath River in California and Oregon

The Associated Press story, picked up by NPR, is here under the headline, "The largest dam demolition in history is approved for a Western river.'  An excerpt follows: 

U.S. regulators approved a plan Thursday to demolish four dams on a California river and open up hundreds of miles of salmon habitat that would be the largest dam removal and river restoration project in the world when it goes forward.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's unanimous vote on the lower Klamath River dams is the last major regulatory hurdle and the biggest milestone for a $500 million demolition proposal championed by Native American tribes and environmentalists for years. The project would return the lower half of California's second-largest river to a free-flowing state for the first time in more than a century.

Native tribes that rely on the Klamath River and its salmon for their way of life have been a driving force behind bringing the dams down in a wild and remote area that spans the California and Oregon border.

The story quotes Yurok Chair Joseph James on the vote:   

The Klamath salmon are coming home. The people have earned this victory and with it, we carry on our sacred duty to the fish that have sustained our people since the beginning of time.

The story continues: 

Plans to remove the dams have not been without controversy.

Homeowners on Copco Lake, a large reservoir, vigorously oppose the demolition plan and rate payers in the rural counties around the dams worry about taxpayers shouldering the cost of any overruns or liability problems. Critics also believe dam removal won't be enough to save the salmon because of changing ocean conditions the fish encounter before the return to their natal river.

Also regarding the critics, the story quotes Richard Marshall, head of the Siskiyou County (California) Water Users Association: 

The whole question is, will this add to the increased production of salmon? It has everything to do with what's going on in the ocean (and) we think this will turn out to be a futile effort.  Nobody's ever tried to take care of the problem by taking care of the existing situation without just removing the dams.

Friday, November 18, 2022

Staffing shortage in rural California sheriff's department

The Los Angeles Times reported a few days ago from Tehama County, California, under the headline "‘Catastrophic staffing shortage’: Northern California sheriff to suspend daytime patrols."  Here's an excerpt:   

The Tehama County Sheriff’s Office announced the suspension — which will start Sunday — in a news release stating that over the last several years there have been “difficulties with recruitment and retention of employees, which has been directly linked to pay disparities.”

Recent shortages led the Sheriff’s Office to reassign deputies from the operations division to fill vacancies within the courts and jail facility, leaving them “with insufficient staff to sustain 24-hour patrol services.”

Sheriff’s deputies in the county, which sits about 120 miles north of Sacramento, will maintain nighttime patrols. Deputies assigned night shift patrols “will triage and respond to the open, non-emergency calls for service that come in throughout the day,” according to the Sheriff’s Office.

The California Highway Patrol will respond to life-threatening emergencies during the hours that the Sheriff’s Office is unable to provide patrol services, according to last week’s announcement. It is unclear when daytime patrols will return.
Tehama County, by the way, has a population of 65,289, but is about the size of Rhode Island and Delaware combined. Tehama lies just south of Shasta County, which has been much in the news of late because of a local militia that has worked to oust conventional Republicans from office. That militia also has ties to Tehama County, as outlined here and in stories linked therein.  (One of the militia leaders owns a bar in Tehama County).

This story of a cutback on law enforcement is made more jarring because of events a few years ago, specifically a gunman on the loose who killed several of his neighbors and even attacked the nearby elementary school.  Though local law enforcement had been warned of that man's gun ownership and threat, they failed to act on the opportunity under California law to take away his gun.  

It reminds me of this post from a decade ago out of my hometown, where the police patrol only during the day.  At that time, residents were asking for night patrols because of a spike in property crime.  

This news out of Tehama County is also a nice complement to my work on the relative lawlessness of rural people and places, in part because of cultural norms (what I call the socio-spatial characteristics of rural communities) and in part because of the expense of policing sparsely populated places.  Read about that work (academic) here and casual (here).  

Thursday, November 17, 2022

On Marie Gluesenkamp Perez's rurality, and how that helped her win Washington's 3d congressional district

Michelle Goldberg wrote for the New York Times about the race for Washington's 3d congressional district in late September (and I wrote about that column here).  

Now, in the wake of Gluesenkamp Perez's win, Goldberg follows up with her four takeaways from this campaign, including this first one, which touches on rurality:
1. Democrats need to recruit more working-class and rural candidates.

Gluesenkamp Perez is a young mother who owns an auto repair shop with her husband. They live in rural Skamania County, in a hillside house they built themselves when they couldn’t get a mortgage to buy one. On the trail she spoke frequently of bringing her young son to work because they couldn’t find child care. She shares both the cultural signifiers and economic struggles of many of the voters she needed to win over.

“I hope that people see this as a model,” she told me on Monday. “We need to recruit different kinds of candidates. We need to be listening more closely to the districts — people want a Congress that looks like America.”

For the record, Skamania County's population is just 12,000, but it is exurban Portland.   That said, Gluesenkamp Perez's campaign ads did a great job of playing up the rural parts of her background, showing her on an all-terrain, off-road vehicle on the property she owns with her husband.

Oh, and I don't hold it against her at all, but Gluesenkamp Perez does have a degree from uber liberal and uber urban Reed College in Portland.  

Postscript:  I love this Nov. 19, 2022 tweet from Gluesenkamp: 

It reminds us of her working-class life (the auto repair shop) and her rural life, too (the trees).  It reads:  "First trip to D.C. since 9th grade.  Not enough trees in this town.  There wasn't time to sightsee, just learn the ropes, but I did manage to pick something up for the fridge at the shop."  

Photos from her twitter feed this week also showed her meeting another woman who inspires me enormously:  Mary Peltola, who is now a certainty to retain the seat as Alaska's at-large member of Congress.  

Postscript:  In the Nov. 28 episode of the NPR Politics podcast, Ximena Bustillo awkwardly refers to Glusenkamp Perez's entire district as rural, though it includes the city of Vancouver, Washington, part of the Portland, Oregon metro area.  

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

Hand counting ballots in rural Nevada, and other tales of election irregularities in (mostly) rural America

Here's the New York Times report on an ACLU lawsuit aimed at stopping the hand counting of ballots in Nye County, Nevada, population 51,591. 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada filed a complaint on Monday with the Nevada Supreme Court seeking to stop a rural county from continuing its hand count of ballots, citing concerns that the process will be used to fuel misinformation about election security.

The group, which is suing Nye County, argued that hand counts “set a dangerous precedent for future elections by encouraging local officials to make up and implement their own vote-counting processes that violate voters’ constitutional right to an accurate election.”

Voter protection advocates from the A.C.L.U. and the Brennan Center, which also participated in the lawsuit and provided legal representation, are worried that the hand-count, which was being conducted alongside the official count being done by machine, might produce faulty numbers that would provide fodder for conspiracy theorists.

Nye’s hand count was initiated by the state’s Republican nominee for secretary of state, Jim Marchant, who lost his race on Saturday.

Another recent story about election administration out of Nye County is here.  

Other stories about controversies regarding election administration are here (out of Jasper, Georgia), here (Shasta County, California) and here (Surrey County, North Carolina).  

Postscript:  A New York Times piece about an election integrity skeptic in New Hampshire is here.  The talented and always balanced Farah Stockman is the author.  

And here's a story out of Tripp County, South Dakota, population 5,624, that also implicates election integrity.  The South Dakota Searchlight reports under the headline, "Tabulator catches human error in Tripp County post-election audit."  The subhead is, ‘To me, that shows that the machine is more accurate than humans,’ auditor says.  Makenzie Huber is the reporter, and here's an excerpt: 

The case of Tripp County’s 75 “missing” ballots has been solved, County Auditor Barb Desersa said this week.

The discrepancy emerged last week after a hand count of ballots in the only county in South Dakota in nearly 20 years to perform one. The mismatch does not have any impact on election results.

Tripp County officials were prepared to ask for a court order to reopen a ballot box to find the answer, but the question was resolved without one. The human error explanation for the mismatch, it turned out, was right there in the records from the vote tabulator – the machine that county commissioners had ordered Desersa not to use to tally the county’s official, reportable Election Day results.

A Thursday vote canvas revealed a discrepancy in a single precinct between the number of official, completed ballots recorded in the poll book and the number of audited ballots in one precinct.

Several races had to be recounted by Tripp County’s volunteer counting boards – sometimes three or four times on election night. The last precinct to come in, Colome, had mismatched numbers according to the tabulator audit the next day.

Postscript:  The NPR Politics podcast on December 6, 2022 was about Cochise County, Arizona's vote certification delay.   Here's the summary: 

Under a court order, officials in Republican-controlled Cochise County, Ariz., finally certified their local midterm elections results after they missed the state's legal deadline and put more than 47,000 people's votes at risk. A bipartisan pair of former officials in the state are calling for the two members who initially voted against certification to be criminally investigated.

Here's a December 4 story by Minnesota Public Radio under the headline, "Post-election hand counts find no issues with Minn. ballot-counting machines."  Kristi Marohn's story reported details on hand recounts out of a number of nonmetro counties; these re-counts have been a norm since 2006, but Marohn reports that some counties are recounting more precincts than is required.  No irregularities have been found.  

Postscript:  In early 2023, Shasta County, California ended its contract with Dominion Voting Systems, and a county official took a trip to meet with Mike Lindell, the My Pillow guy who has peddled election conspiracies.

Tuesday, November 15, 2022

More on the role of rurality in Fetterman's Pennsylvania win

This is from Trip Gabriel's story in the New York Times on Sunday, which was headlined "Democrats See a Blueprint in Fetterman’s Victory in Pennsylvania."  The subhead was "John Fetterman flipped a key Senate seat in part by attracting white working-class votes, including in the reddest parts of his state."  

“It was enormously beneficial,” Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, a Democrat, said of Mr. Fetterman’s red-county incursion. “It’s really what Democrats have to try to do. I know we’ve had a debate in our party—you work to get your urban and suburban base out and hope for the best.” But Mr. Fetterman showed that a Democratic win in a battleground state could also run through rural Republican regions, Mr. Casey said.

Mr. Fetterman’s 4.4-percentage-point victory over Mehmet Oz, his Republican opponent, outpaced Mr. Biden’s 1.2-point win in Pennsylvania in 2020. Mr. Fetterman, Pennsylvania’s lieutenant governor, who posed for his official portrait in an open-collar gray work shirt, won a larger share of votes than Mr. Biden did in almost every county.

In suburban counties, where the Oz campaign tried to undermine Mr. Fetterman with college-educated voters by painting him as an extremist and soft on crime, Mr. Fetterman largely held onto Democratic gains of recent years, winning about 1 percentage point more of the votes than Mr. Biden did in 2020.

Mr. Fetterman’s biggest gains were in deep-red counties dominated by white working-class voters. He didn’t win these places outright, but he drove up the margins for a Democrat by 3, 4 or 5 points compared with Mr. Biden.

Gabriel quoted Christopher Borick, a political scientist at Muhlenberg College in Allentown, Pennsylvania:  

Pennsylvania elections are about margins, and he cut into the margins Republicans had across the counties that they usually control.  He got a lot of looks from voters who aren’t very open to looking at Democrats right now.

The story continues: 

In almost no county did Mr. Fetterman improve on Mr. Biden’s margin more than in Armstrong County, in the northern exurbs of Pittsburgh, where more than 97 percent of residents are white and fewer than one in five adults has a four-year college degree.

“I expected him to win, but I didn’t think he’d do that well,” said Robert Beuth, 72, a retired factory worker in the county who voted for Mr. Fetterman, speaking of the statewide result. “I think the biggest drawback for a lot of people about Oz is that he moved from New Jersey to Pennsylvania to run for election. To me that’s not right.” He added that he hoped Mr. Fetterman and other Democrats in Congress would “come up with some ideas” to help “poor people working two or three jobs just to get by.”

To be sure, Dr. Oz carried deep-red Armstrong County, whose biggest employers include Walmart and a coal mining company, with 71 percent of the vote. But Mr. Fetterman’s 29 percent share was 5.4 points higher than Mr. Biden’s support two years ago.

I've written a lot about Fetterman in the last six months, and my most recent post is here.  My August Politico piece about his rural efforts is here, and my Daily Yonder piece on the same theme is here.  

Postscript:  This is from a NYT piece titled, "How Democrats Can Create a Fetterman 2.0" by Michael Sokolove, who also wrote about Fetterman just after he won the primary.  Here's the bit most salient to Fetterman's rural strategy:

Rural voters in Pennsylvania, as elsewhere in America, have been increasingly beyond the reach of Democrats. So why bother when you can just mine the deep trove of Democratic votes in the cities and close-in suburbs?

But Mr. Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor and an unconventional politician in almost every way, did not waver. And the results showed that he had substantially cut into the huge margins that Donald Trump ran up in Pennsylvania’s deep-red communities in defeating Hillary Clinton in 2016 — and again four years later in losing the state, just barely, to Joe Biden.

* * * 

One lesson from Mr. Fetterman is that he showed up, repeatedly, in places that Democrats rarely visited. He began during his run for Senate in 2016, when he lost in the primary. After he was elected lieutenant governor in 2018, a job with few official duties, he traveled the state constantly.
The essay then quotes Jeff Eggleston, chair of the state's Democratic Rural Caucus: 
He has physically spent more time in rural Pennsylvania than any candidate I’ve ever seen,He got to know people. He spent time in our backyards. He made real, meaningful relationships, so people were willing to make a huge sacrifice in order to get him over the finish line.

And here's the bit most salient to his Working Class vibe:

Mr. Fetterman’s style and appearance are the first things that set him apart. Neil Oxman, a Philadelphia consultant who has run more than a dozen statewide races, including those of the two-term governor Ed Rendell, said that “you can’t discount the look” — his signature outfit is a Carhartt hoodie and cargo shorts. Mr. Oxman noted: “It’s an entry. He can talk to blue-collar people in a way that other Democrats have been failing at.”

Finally, Ezra Klein talked a lot about Fetterman on his podcast last week, including how Fetterman literally embodied a working class vibe.  (Same sort of stuff I wrote in my two essays above in Politico and the Daily Yonder).  There was a particularly memorable line about Fetterman not only being at the bar, but being in the bar fight.  

Cross-posted to Working-Class Whites and the Law.  

Monday, November 14, 2022

Farmland values rising quickly.

Linda Qiu reports for the New York Times under the headline, "Farmland Values Hit Record Highs, Pricing Out Farmers."  An excerpt follows: 
What is happening in South Dakota is playing out in farming communities across the nation as the value of farmland soars, hitting record highs this year and often pricing out small or beginning farmers. In the state, farmland values surged by 18.7 percent from 2021 to 2022, one of the highest increases in the country, according to the most recent figures from the Agriculture Department. Nationwide, values increased by 12.4 percent and reached $3,800 an acre, the highest on record since 1970, with cropland at $5,050 an acre and pastureland at $1,650 an acre.

A series of economic forces — high prices for commodity crops like corn, soybeans and wheat; a robust housing market; low interest rates until recently; and a slew of government subsidies — have converged to create a “perfect storm” for farmland values, said Jason Henderson, a dean at the College of Agriculture at Purdue University and a former official at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.

As a result, small farmers like Mr. Gindo are now going up against deep-pocketed investors, including private equity firms and real estate developers, prompting some experts to warn of far-reaching consequences for the farming sector.

Young farmers named finding affordable land for purchase the top challenge in 2022 in a September survey by the National Young Farmers Coalition, a nonprofit group.

Sunday, November 13, 2022

South Dakotas vote to expand Medicaid under Affordable Care Act

Here's the Politico story, and here's a story from the New York Times a few days before the election.  

An excerpt from the Politico story by Megan Messerly is here:
South Dakota voters on Tuesday approved a measure to expand the state’s Medicaid program under the Affordable Care Act.

The program, which takes effect in July and is expected to cover more than 40,000 people, passed with about 56 percent support.

The Republican-controlled state, where lawmakers have long resisted Medicaid expansion, is the seventh in the last five years to do so at the ballot box — and likely the last to do so for some time.

“We are thrilled by this victory, which took years of work, coalition building, and organizing to achieve,” said Kelly Hall, executive director of the Fairness Project, which helped pass the ballot measure. “Citizens took matters into their own hands to pass Medicaid expansion via ballot measure — showing us once again that if politicians won’t do their job, their constituents will step up and do it for them.”

Opponents of Medicaid expansion tried to make passage of the ballot measure more difficult through a June initiative, Amendment C, that would have raised the voter approval threshold to 60 percent. That measure was overwhelmingly defeated.

Under the American Rescue Plan, the federal government encouraged states to expand Medicaid by covering an extra 5 percent of the costs of the program, in addition to the 90 percent it covers for newly eligible individuals under Obamacare.

The Kaiser Family Foundation estimates those incentives will send $110 million to South Dakota.

Opponents of Medicaid expansion, including Republican Gov. Kristi Noem, argued the measure would cost the state in the long run, force lawmakers to raise taxes, and discourage able-bodied adults from getting jobs.
And here's the NYT overview from a few days before the election.  It is written by Sheryl Gay Stolberg and provides ample context:
Progressives have helped bring health coverage to tens of thousands of uninsured Americans with an exercise in direct democracy: They have persuaded voters to pass ballot measures expanding Medicaid in six states where Republican elected officials had long been standing in the way.

Now comes the latest test of this ballot box strategy: South Dakota.

An unlikely coalition of farmers, business leaders, hospital executives and clergy members has coalesced around Amendment D, a ballot measure that would enshrine Medicaid expansion in the South Dakota Constitution, over the objections of Gov. Kristi Noem, a Republican. It is widely expected to pass next week on Election Day.

It has been 10 years since the Supreme Court ruled that states did not have to expand Medicaid — the government health insurance program for low-income people — under the Affordable Care Act, and the politics around the issue have shifted. Philosophical objections to large government programs are giving way to economic considerations, particularly in rural states like South Dakota, where struggling hospitals and nursing homes are eager for federal reimbursement dollars that come from Medicaid.

If Medicaid expansion is adopted in South Dakota — a state where Donald J. Trump won more than 60 percent of the vote both times he ran — advocates say it will send a strong signal to other Medicaid expansion holdouts, like Texas and Florida. South Dakota is one of 12 remaining states that have not expanded, down from 19 in 2016.
“It is harder and harder for conservative politicians to stand behind the idea that the A.C.A. is just one lawsuit away from being repealed or overturned,” said Kelly Hall, the executive director of the Fairness Project, a national nonprofit that is behind the “Yes on D” campaign.

“Our work,” she said, “is about how do we build odd-bedfellows coalitions delivering the message that Medicaid expansion is good for the economy, brings back tax dollars to the states, is helpful for small businesses and is not just ‘Do you support Obamacare?’”

In the tiny farming town of Conde, where a road sign puts the population at 140, that is exactly the argument that Doug Sombke, the president of the South Dakota Farmers Union, is making.

Saturday, November 12, 2022

How the election went down in Shasta County, California, site of recent political turmoil

 Hailey Branson-Potts reports for the Los Angeles Times from Redding, California on Election Day under the headline, "In red California, election deniers rant about fraud and promise they won’t go away."  Here's an excerpt: 

The midterm elections came to this bitterly divided country with a storm of conspiracy theories, bolstered by former President Trump and fanned by allies who support his lie that the 2020 election was stolen from him.

In this mostly rural Northern California county — where Trump beat President Biden by 33 percentage points — local election officials and poll workers have felt threatened and under siege. The split is not so much red versus blue but traditional conservative versus far right.

“We’re tired. Down-to-the bones tired,” said Cathy Darling Allen, the Shasta County clerk and registrar of voters, who has been harassed and vilified by election deniers.

And so, it was considered a relief — a victory, to some — that election night here came and went peacefully, without violence or intimidation.

But the conspiracy theories about the validity of voting, and the targeting of the elections office, won’t stop any time soon, according to both Allen and local election deniers themselves.
Prior stories about Shasta County voting and politics are here, here and here.

Friday, November 11, 2022

Tight races in congressional districts in the rural West

Two very tight congressional races in the American Southwest include large swaths of rural territory.  

The first of these races, New Mexico's 2d, has been called for the Democrat Gabe Vasquez.  It stretches from the Albuquerque suburbs west to Arizona, including a bit of Indian Country, then south to the Mexican border and West Texas/El Paso.  Here are the results, showing Vasquez won by about 1,300 votes:  

His support was strongest in Indian Country but also good in Las Cruces and the surrounding area, Las Cruces being the state's third largest city. 

Here's a New York Times story from several weeks ago mentioning Vasquez and his race in relation to "American dream" rhetoric.  Though that story suggested that it is primarily Republicans who invoke the American dream, the story observed that Vasquez also does so.  Here's the salient bit: 
Gabe Vasquez, a Democrat who is facing Ms. Herrell in New Mexico in the fall, has also embraced the phrase. He tells supporters that his late grandfather — Javier BaƱuelos, who taught himself to fix broken televisions with an old manual and eventually opened his own repair shop — made it possible for him to run for Congress. The American dream is not about buying a house, but ensuring that the economic ladder “is there for everybody and that everyone can climb with you,” he said.
Another close race is Colorado's 3d.  Here's how that one is looking right now, with Boebert leading by 1,100 votes:
NPR did a segment this morning suggesting an automatic recount in the Boebert-Frisch race because the initial results are expected to put the candidates within half a percentage of each other, as they are now.  Here is the Colorado Sun's coverage.  

Another close race with swaths of rural territory is Washington's 3rd, in the southwest corner of the state, part of it exurban Portland, Oregon-Vancouver, Washington.  Here's the current state of play there now, where Marie Gluesenkamp Perez is leading by about 6,000 votes.  That seat was previously held by a moderate Republican, Jamie Herrera-Beutler, who voted to impeach Trump, setting up the battle between Gluesenkamp Perez and Joe Kent.  That race was featured in a New York Times story by Michelle Goldberg in late September.  
Another exurban district with an exceedingly tight races was Colorado's 8th, which lies along the front range and stretches from Greeley south to Thornton and east of Colorado's 2d, which includes Fort Collins and Boulder.  The Democrat, Yadira Caraveo won there, defeating Barbara Kirkmeyer by about 1,600 votes.  

Kirkmeyer also used American dream rhetoric in her campaign, albeit with a different connotation than Vasquez's: 
Kirkmeyer ...embraces the American dream as the theme of her personal story. Ms. Kirkmeyer grew up on a dairy farm, the sixth of seven children in a family that often struggled. She paid her way through college by raising and selling a herd of eight milk cows, yearlings and heifer calves.

The American dream, Ms. Kirkmeyer said, was not only about economic opportunity but freedom, connecting the words with Republican opposition to Covid-related mask mandates. “I don’t see the mandates as part of the American dream,” she said. “People felt that was an infringement on their rights and personal dreams.”
Caraveo is a Latina pediatrician, and the district she will now serve is 39% Latino/a.  Caraveo carried Adams County (where she lives in Thornton)the part of the district closest to Denver, while Kirkmeyer carried Weld County, which includes Greeley and environs (and was also a center in the movement for northern Colorado's succession about a decade ago). 

Postscript:  Here's Politico's coverage of the Gluesenkamp Perez win over Joe Kent in Washington's 3d.