Weekend Roundup: Tuesday’s Rural Vote

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Election of a governor in Kentucky and referendums in Ohio and Mississippi were closely watched nationally. In these most telling elections Tuesday, rural voters and urban voters came out on the same side.

In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich backed a bill that limited the power of public-sector unions. The bill was put to a statewide vote Tuesday and just over 61 percent of Ohio citizens cast ballots against the Kasich-backed bill. 

There was virtually no difference in the urban, rural and exurban vote. Nearly 61 percent of rural voters cast ballots against the anti-union legislation. The urban total was 61.9 percent and in the exurbs, 59.6 percent of voters voted in favor of public-sector union rights. 

(Exurbs here are counties near large cities, but with about half of all residents living in rural settings.)

Kentucky was electing a governor. The Democrat, incumbent Steve Beshear, won against Republican David Williams, a rural legislator, and perennial candidate Gatewood Galbraith. Kentucky votes Republican in national elections.

Beshear won 59.8 percent of the vote in urban counties, 51.7 percent in rural counties and 56 percent in exurban counties.

Mississippians were voting on a proposed amendment to the state constitution that would have declared a fertilized human egg to be a person. The amendment would have outlawed all abortions and many forms of birth control. The proposal was defeated by 58 percent of the vote.

In urban areas, 66 percent of voters cast ballots against the amendment. In rural areas, 55.2 percent of voters were against the proposal. And in exurban counties, 58.5 percent of voters cast no votes. 

• The youngest Gulf War vets, those 18 to 24 years old, had an unemployment rate of 30.4 percent in October. Non-veterans the same age had a 15.3 percent unemployment rate, Business Week reports.

Moreover, the jobless rate for vets is going up (from 18.4 percent a year ago), while the rate for non-vets is going down.

“The numbers don’t lie,” says Ryan Gallucci, deputy legislative director for the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Washington. “The new veterans are going into the unemployment pile.”

•The distribution of health care professions is a bigger problem than their number, says a report coming out of the University of California, San Francisco. 

The divide is, not surprisingly, rural and urban. Los Angeles, Orange County and San Francisco have more residency and training programs than they need while inland and rural counties will be “significantly strained.” The study recommends more community college training programs in underserved areas, among other tactics.

• The Obama administration is recommending that 18 “special” places in the West be designated as national conservation or wilderness areas. Congressional Republicans are likely to oppose this move, the L.A. Times reports

• The Obama administration has terminated an $80 million grant that would have helped spread broadband service to poor, rural areas of Louisiana. 

The story in the New Orleans paper about the failed project doesn’t find much that went right. There were delays by the state and by the contractor. Nobody could meet a deadline. And the state said the grant competed with private broadband providers. 

“This grant called for a heavy-handed approach from the federal government that would have undermined and taken over private businesses,” said Gov. Bobby Jindal. “We have an administration in Washington that wants to run car companies, banks, our entire health care system and now they want to take over the broadband business. We won’t stand for that in Louisiana.”

Backers of the project say the effort was sabotaged.

• DTN’s Chris Clayton points out that most Iowa farmers don’t believe the climate is changing. Only 20 percent of the farmers polled in 2011 by Progressive Farmer said climate change is occurring and is caused by both human and natural effects. Half the farmers said climate change was not occurring. 

All this comes at a time when food and soil scientists are struggling to find ways to produce enough food.

“Whether it’s caused by a profound change issue or more natural reoccurring issue, there is something happening out there,” said former Ag Secretary Dan Glickman. “Right now, it’s gotten so caught up in the political debate. I don’t know what the Department of Agriculture should be doing, but I don’t think we can bury our heads in the sand and not think it’s going to affect farmers and ranchers.”


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