Storm Lake, Iowa, doesn’t seem like the sort of place that would attract Democratic presidential candidates. The town has only 10,600 residents and sits in the highly conservative northwest corner of the state. In 2016, Donald Trump received 4,903 votes in surrounding Buena Vista County, compared with Hillary Clinton’s 2,856 votes.
But on Saturday, at least four of the major Democratic candidates will gather in Storm Lake for a candidate forum.
The event is billed as a way for Democrats to reconnect with rural voters after the defeat they suffered in 2016. Part of the appeal is also to share a stage with Art Cullen, the town’s Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper editor.
There will be two HuffPost journalists will also moderate the forum.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., as well as former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro and former Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., will be there. Also attending is Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, who’s considering a presidential bid. Warren and Castro have already been in Storm Lake.
“It kind of tells me who really cares about rural Iowa, frankly,” Cullen says. “And if you ain’t there, you’re square.”
Until now, Cullen says he has never received attention during a presidential campaign. But in 2017, Cullen won a Pulitzer Prize for his editorials challenging corporate agribusiness, a potential message that the right Democrat might be able to use to woo some disaffected Trump voters.
“What I’m talking about is realistic, sustainable practices that can be encouraged by Congress to make farmers and the environment whole and we know how to do it,” Cullen says. “It’s just that the chemical companies have bought the process. They’ve bought the judicial process, and they’ve bought the political process.”
Do you think this will impact the national race? We look forward to seeing your comments at the end of this article.