Politics & Government

Can Democrats win back the blue-collar voters that flipped to Trump?

U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas, talks to the media outside of the U.S. Courthouse, July 14, 2014, in San Antonio. Veasey officially launched the Blue Collar Caucus in Congress this week.
U.S. Rep. Marc Veasey, D-Texas, talks to the media outside of the U.S. Courthouse, July 14, 2014, in San Antonio. Veasey officially launched the Blue Collar Caucus in Congress this week. AP

Donald Trump assumed the presidency by winning blue-collar states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, and congressional Democrats are fighting to regain their former base.

To fight back against Trump’s gains, Fort Worth Democratic Rep. Marc Veasey and Pennsylvania Democratic Rep. Brendan Boyle officially launched the Blue Collar Caucus in Congress this week, complete with a bevy of floor speeches highlighting economic issues Trump capitalized on to win in November.

“When you talk about prevailing wages, when you talk about strengthening labor in this country, he’s done absolutely nothing,” Veasey said of Trump. “He’s running a scam and people need to know that he’s running a scam.”

Veasey’s and Boyle’s districts are very different. Veasey’s district, which stretches from downtown Fort Worth to downtown Dallas, is nearly 70 percent Hispanic and only 1 percent non-Hispanic white. Boyle’s district is nearly 90 percent white and centers on Philadelphia’s northern suburbs. Veasey is from a deep red state that hasn’t elected a Democrat statewide in years, while Boyle’s state voted Republican in a presidential election for the first time since 1988.

“I agree Democrats have not been focusing on the problems of blue-collar Americans,” Boyle said.

Both members stressed the importance of increasing wages and taking a hard look at trade deals. Boyle and Veasey voted against fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which was supported by former President Barack Obama and many congressional Republicans.

Trump is a vehement opponent of the trade pact and argued during the campaign that it would hurt American workers. Hillary Clinton eventually opposed the pact after pressure during the Democratic primary.

“You have the strongman routine that he has and the act that he’s putting on, maybe people were impressed, but what we’re going to do in this caucus is show that it’s about wages, it’s about benefits and it’s about health care and that President Trump is not going to deliver absolutely anything on any of those promises that he made,” Veasey said.

At least five other members joined Veasey and Boyle for speeches on the floor of the House of Representatives after votes Wednesday, and the pair have appeared on CNN and podcasts to emphasize the importance of blue-collar workers to the Democratic Party.

Veasey will be available in the district next Friday for a Coffee with Your Congressman event at Tia Dora’s in Dallas from 8:30 to 10 a.m. His meeting comes during the 115th Congress’ first recess, and Republicans are bracing for an icy reception in their districts.

Alex Daugherty: 202-383-6049, @alextdaugherty

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