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The Democrats think they have a strategy for winning elections in Florida – target solid Republican voters in rural counties. This week the Florida Democratic Party launched its statewide rural tour with a stop in Hendry County and will continue with future stops in Putnam, Bay, Okaloosa, Walton, Washington, Franklin, Jackson, Wakulla and Citrus. It’s an effort by the Democrats to roll-back time when their party dominated state politics.

“From Escambia to Madison, to Hendry and Glades counties, the Florida Democratic Party is committed to reaching out to all voters,” said Florida Democratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo, “We are confident that when voters hear about our candidates, they will be as excited as we are for November.”

Chair Rizzo’s quote actually shows the failed logic in the Democrats efforts. Escambia County may be rural compared to Palm Beach County where she lives, but with a population of 313,000, it is Florida’s 20th largest county.

There are plenty of rural counties in Florida. Spend some time there and you’ll quickly realize why they’ve abandoned the Democratic Party and they aren’t coming back.

Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam weighed in on the Democrats’ plans on social media.

Touring the Panhandle

The largest gathering spot in Santa Rosa County on a Saturday night is the Southern Raceway in Milton. Before the car races start on the red clay track, the announcer opens  with a prayer and everyone stands for the National Anthem. Many there think President Trump is doing an incredible job. Trump won Santa Rosa County in 2016 with 74% of the vote.

From there head east to Jackson County, where this past Wednesday night Governor Rick Scott was the keynote speaker at the local Republican Party’s Reagan Day Dinner. It was the largest crowd ever for the annual dinner.

Governor Scott speaks at Jackson County Reagan Day Dinner.

In 2016 not only did President Trump win Jackson County with 67% of the vote, for the first time ever voters elected a majority Republican county commission. Jackson Commissioner Clint Pate, who also serves as Chairman of the county Republican Party, says Democrats have another thing coming if they think the rural vote will switch back to them. “There’s a reason rural voters abandoned the Democratic Party, they abandoned us a long time ago,” said Pate. “Their values don’t match our values and some summer roadshow isn’t going to change that.”

Jackson County remains a Democratic county based on voter registration, that’s mainly because traditionally local candidates run on the Democratic ticket. But like the rest of the panhandle, which is painted in red from west of Jackson to Alabama, statewide and congressional Republicans know these rural counties are reliable votes. That’s what makes the Democratic rural tour even more confusing and a waste of their already limited resources.

David Bishop is a native Floridian, husband and father. During his 30 year career, David has been a journalist, political operative and communications consultant.