“Often on the biggest issues, it’s not Democrat versus Republican,” said Rep. Judd Matheny, R-Tullahoma, Tennessee. “It’s urban versus rural.” Rep. Matheny was explaining the growth of rural coalitions on both sides of the aisle in the Tennessee legislature to Nashville reporter Chas Sisk. “Meant as a counterbalance to Tennessee’s increasingly powerful cities, these rural caucuses will fight to bring more money back to smaller communities,” Sisk writes in The Tennessean. “The groups could also serve as bridges between the two parties to work with opponents on rural causes, organizers say.”
The rural coalition in Tennessee was spurred by the realization that unemployment in the rural portions of the state was one-third higher than in urban counties. (The information came from this Yonder story.) Rural Republicans began forming a coalition last week. Democrats are expanding their rural caucus, that was limited to West Tennessee.
“By banding together, organizers say they can promote worthy efforts in each other’s districts and give their tiny towns the same clout as Nashville, Knoxville and Memphis,” Sisk wrote. “We want to make sure we have some additional horsepower,” one legislator said said. “It’s more difficult for us to make our cases as single legislators than it is when you have 25 or 30 legislators on an issue.”