Democratic candidates and delegates from rural counties across the states gathered in Corning Friday for the annual Democratic Rural Conference. These counties have a population of 250,000 people or less. As our Lara Greenberg tells us, this year’s conference has a very specific focus.
CORNING, N.Y. -- "We look to Washington and we know that it's broken. We know they can't get anything done. So what we have to do is do what we do in rural New York, which is find our common values," said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.
For the 250 people who gathered at the Democratic Rural Conference Friday, it was all about winning seats in the house.
"I know with hard work and grassroots effort, we will win and we will prevail," said Gillibrand.
But the Democrats need to win another 25 House seats to gain the majority in Congress. These rural districts are primarily Republican. Congressional candidates for the 22nd and 23rd districts say it’s time to change that.
"Just look at what this current Congress is doing. To cut Medicare. To cut student loans. To cut healthcare spending and education spending. They're wrong on so many issues. They're just missing it," said Dan Lamb, a Democratic candidate running in the 22nd Congressional district.
"I think we need to take back this Congress because if Democrats win then the priority's going to be on building the middle class once again in America," said Nate Shinagawa, a Democratic candidate running in the 23nd Congressional district.
Jobs, agriculture and renewable energy sources are what Lamb, Shinagawa and Leslie Danks Burke, who's also running in the 23rd district, are focusing on. But how they plan to gain support is what they’ll strategize about for the remainder of the conference.
"It's just fantastic to have this region pull together and be able to see the common interests that we all have and be able to strategize together and figure out how we're going to get these great objective achieved for all of us together," said Leslie Danks Burke, a Democratic candidate running in the 23rd Congressional district.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is the only statewide candidate on the ballot this year. She’s running for her first full term after being elected to fill out the remainder of Hillary Clinton’s term in 2010.
The DRC continues in Corning Saturday.