Politics a Hot Topic at Farming Convention

By: Tim Saunders
By: Tim Saunders

Farmers from across the Commonwealth are in Hot Springs this week for the Virginia Farm Bureau's annual convention.

A hot topic at this year's event is the Presidential election, and more specifically, the part farmers and other rural voters played in the outcome of the race.

Their numbers are strong and their voices are being heard. Political analysts say the farming community is a powerful base of active voters.

"It's a good time to be a rural voter," Emory & Henry College professor Tom Morris. "The media's focusing on it, politicians are paying attention."

Politicians like Attorney General Jerry Kilgore, the unofficial Republican front runner in next year's race for Governor, making an important stop to greet voters at this year's farm bureau convention.

"I'm not taking any vote for granted," says Kilgore. "We're going to be in rural Virginia."

Experts say the key to winning the rural vote is to get past the day-to-day politics and get to know the issues that affect the average voter, especially farmers.

"As indicated in the presidential election, they care about values," says Morris. "They care about what the candidates stand for; those voters tend to be committed, and they turn out and vote."

Morris says rural voters were key in electing Mark Warner four years ago and President Bush this year.

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