RICHMOND, Va. — Dozens of President Trump’s 2016 campaign aides are working to get disaffected blue-collar rural Virginians to vote in the Nov. 7 governor’s race – an effort seen as a trial run for a national push in next year’s congressional midterms.

Look Ahead America is targeting 12,000 registered voters who have not been to the polls since 2009, the last year Republicans won statewide elections in Virginia.

The group is conservative but officially nonpartisan, so it cannot directly urge voters to choose Republican Ed Gillespie over Democrat Ralph Northam, the state’s lieutenant governor.

But the organization is reaching out to the same types of voters who were widely credited with putting Trump in the White House, which its website describes as “rural and blue-collar patriotic Americans who are disaffected and disenfranchised from the nation’s corridors of power.”

Co-founder Matt Braynard stressed that Look Ahead is not reaching out to Trump voters but people who sat out the 2016 election and many others before that.

“Part of it is just a high level of cynicism that voting does not matter,” said Braynard, one of two former Trump campaign data directors who started the group. “We are trying to correct that.”

Look Ahead is reaching out to those voters through direct mail, phone calls, robo-calls, email, social media and old-fashioned door-knocking.

The group’s efforts could help Gillespie if it gets more conservatives to the polls. Some religious conservatives and fans of Trump have been skeptical of Gillespie, a party establishment figure who has been a Republican National Committee chairman, Washington lobbyist and counselor to President George W. Bush.

Because the group operates independently of the campaign, Gillespie could reap the benefit of higher conservative turnout while keeping Trump at arm’s length – a posture intended to help him with moderates and independents in a state where the president’s approval ratings are dismal.

Look Ahead America, created by 34 Trump field workers and state directors, got working in Virginia about two weeks ago.