The new, long-shot interest is partially borne of necessity: forced to defend incumbents everywhere else, the South provides some of Democrats’ only takeover targets. But whether by necessity or choice, the attention to a region of the country long thought of as too forbidding to bother with is long overdue, some prominent Democrats say.
“It depends on how the Democratic Party plays it: If they work under the assumption that simply not being Republican is enough, then they’re in for a big disappointment,” said Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards — one of just two Southern Democratic governors outside of Virginia — who, like North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper, frequently speaks with candidates in the region to offer advice. “But if they understand that this presents an opportunity for them to reconnect with voters who moved away from the Democratic Party over the last couple of decades, and then do what is required to reconnect with them, then there is a tremendous opportunity.”