City liberals, miners, environmentalists, and union workers make up the Minnesota Democratic coalition. But, like in a lot of the Midwest, it’s getting tougher and tougher to hold together.”
“There’s some things going on in the Democratic Party that divide us,” Medure, who is running for a state legislature seat against a Republican incumbent, acknowledged to a crowd assembled over pulled pork, baked beans, and lemon squares sponsored by the Itasca County Democratic Party. “There’s a lot of friction in the party. We can worry about that when we get there — but we believe in the same things.”
To most people in the crowd, it was immediately clear what Medure was talking about: mining. Here, in and around the state’s long-struggling iron mining region, known as the Iron Range, the tension in the Democratic Party between mining advocates and environmentalists is almost palpable.
The issue, mostly, pits people in Northern Minnesota’s small towns against city environmentalists. And it’s a sign of a broader problem: In Minnesota, tension between urban and rural Democrats has been growing increasingly sharp. Democrats on the Iron Range worry it could cost the party in 2018.
Just enough deplorably irredeemable bitter clingers switched from Obama to Trump in 2016 to put Trump in the White House by a comfortable Electoral College margin. Stories like this one — and there have been many — make it possible or even likely that Trump could improve on that margin in 2020.