Jim Slattery, a candidate for U.S. Senate in Kansas, dropped by Netroots Nation this morning to talk about how progressives can make inroads in the heartland. His panel, “Rural America and the Progressive Movement,” took a look at some of the reasons rural voters shouldn’t be written off as red. Energy and environment were two key issues the panel discussed, noting that higher gas prices and environmental degradation hit rural Americans the hardest.
Slattery, who was born and raised in Good Intent, Kansas, served in the House of Representatives from 1982 to 1994. While Kansas is traditionally seen as a staunchly conservative state, they’ve been at the forefront of progress on energy issues in recent months, led by Gov. Kathleen Sebelius. Slattery, too, lists energy as a key issue in his challenge to incumbent Pat Robertson, and calls for higher fuel efficiency standards for automobiles, and investment in clean, renewable technologies.
Grist caught up with Slattery after the panel to talk about why energy and environment issues aren’t a red or blue issue, and why they are important in this year’s elections. The audio is in the gray box above.