While Trump Was Dominating In Deep-Red Oklahoma, This Democrat Won A Landslide
Now Joe Maxwell is urging his party not to give up on rural America.
As precinct data rolled into his war room at the Aloft Hotel in downtown Oklahoma City last November, Joe Maxwell realized his team had a landslide on its hands.
He saw no need to delay the victory speeches, having been up since before daybreak orchestrating a statewide get-out-the-vote operation for what was expected to be a close contest. His team took the elevator to the rooftop bar, where about 50 small farmers gathered anxiously to watch the returns and, they hoped, celebrate. For the previous 14 months, they had battled a so-called “right to farm” ballot initiative, with Maxwell serving as “the general” (to quote his friends) of that campaign. Corporate agricultural interests in Oklahoma hoped the measure would protect factory farming from environmental, food safety and humanitarian regulations. The deep-red state’s Republican governor and every member of its all-GOP congressional delegation backed it.
Maxwell won where Democrats weren’t even playing, in a state where Trump carried every single county. When he convinced the Humane Society to get involved against the right-to-farm measure in 2015, independent polling showed his side trailing 64 percent to 15 percent.
His decision to fight and battle plan reveal a possible path for the Democratic Party out of the political wilderness and back to electoral relevance. But taking it would require rejecting the political strategy that Democratic leaders are now honing in Washington.
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