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Jaime Harrison, Chair of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) speaks at the DNC Winter Meeting in Philadelphia on Feb. 4, 2023.
Jaime Harrison, Chair of the Democratic National Committee speaks at the Winter Meeting in Philadelphia on Feb. 4.Timothy A. Clary / AFP via Getty Images file

Democratic strategists re-launching Jaime Harrison's rural-focused PAC

The Democratic National Committee chairman is serving in an honorary role for the PAC, which will focus on outreach in rural communities


A group of Democratic strategists are relaunching the PAC that Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison started after his unsuccessful Senate campaign in 2020, with the group set to invest in outreach to boost Democrats with rural and red-state voters.

Dirt Road Democrats PAC's new leadership has roots in both Harrison’s Senate campaign and the Georgia Democratic Party’s success in 2020 and the subsequent Senate runoffs there, where Democrats won both Senate seats to take control of the chamber.

“From Michigan, to Wisconsin, to Georgia, the victories of the last 6 months prove that Democrats win the war by cutting the margins in tough places,” Harrison said in a statement released by the PAC. “Growing Democratic vote share from 20% to 40% in multiple red counties could mean the difference between winning and losing a state or district. When it comes to winning in tough places, too often, Democrats wave the white flag before the battle even begins.”

Harrison will not be involved in day-to-day operations and will only be affiliated with Dirt Road Democrats PAC in an honorary role.

But a source close to the organization confirmed to NBC News that the PAC has entered into an agreement with Harrison's former Senate campaign to leverage his campaign list, which raised a massive amount of money to boost his unsuccessful bid against South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham in 2020.

A release shared with NBC News announcing the re-launch says it plans to raise and spend “upwards of seven-figures over the next cycle,” and will initially target Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia.

And a video released announcing the new PAC sums up the message: "To win, or even to make inroads down these back roads, we must show up," a narrator says. "If Democrats did just 5% better in rural areas, it would transform the political landscape across America." 

Scott Hogan, the former executive director of the Georgia state Democratic Party, who now serves as a senior advisor to Dirt Road Democrats PAC, told NBC News that its work will look different across the different states based on laws governing how outside groups can play in races.

But he described an "all the above" policy that includes paid media, door-to-door canvassing and other grassroots organizing, as well as giving grants to other groups or state parties.

Pointing to the Georgia Democratic Party's success in increasing turnout in virtually every county in 2020 on its way to historic success there Hogan argued that a long-term presence by Democrats in rural communities can help "shave margins in some respects, and flip races in others."

"It would be hard to argue that we as Democrats don't need to continue to do outreach and rural areas again. We've we've refocused those areas that focus over the last couple of cycles, but a lot more can be done," Hogan said.

"You need to get the communities the resources so they can do outreach, and reach these voters and have real conversations," he continued. "A lot of times, we talk about messaging, and while I don't discount the importance of that, showing up is the first step, showing up, showing respect to a voter is the first step."

Asked whether the group and its alignment with Harrison could distract from the chairman's role leading the Democratic National Committee, Hogan referred to the mission as "supplemental" to the party's broader work, adding the DNC is doing a "wonderful job."

"Our goal is to further aid those efforts, and more specifically, focus on a small part of that larger puzzle, but one that we think could be better funded. And one that we can direct our whole time to," Hogan said.

"This organization is not being created because we are trying to replace, the focus is to supplement."

CLARIFICATION: May 22, 10:30am ET: Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison is only involved in Dirt Road Democrats PAC in an honorary role, not an advisory role.