– The Democratic National Committee said Friday it would give a $100,000 grant to the Minnesota DFL to increase its outreach to rural communities and small towns, as Minnesota prepares for one of its most competitive election seasons in recent memory.

Rural areas like northeastern Minnesota, once dominated by the DFL, have increasingly become political battlegrounds. With the retirement of U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan, a Democrat, Republicans are preparing to make a big play for a district that went for President Donald Trump by 16 percentage points.

Democrats are also trying to hold onto departing U.S. Rep. Tim Walz's congressional seat in southern Minnesota and flip swing districts south of the Twin Cities that are held by Republican U.S. Reps. Jason Lewis and Erik Paulsen.

DNC Deputy Chairman Keith Ellison, a Minneapolis congressman, has stressed the importance of reaching voters beyond the usual Democratic base.

"This investment will help the DFL to build stronger relationships with activists and key community leaders and expand reach into rural communities and small towns," said DNC Chairman Tom Perez in a statement.

The DNC added that state parties have been receiving $10,000 a month since October 2017, a 33 percent increase from the year before, as part of its Every ZIP Code Counts program. National Democrats are returning to a focus on rebuilding state parties after losing hundreds of local seats under President Barack Obama.