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Photo illustration: Rebecca Zisser / Axios

The Bay Area has long been a bastion of support for strong net neutrality rules. Now supporters are looking somewhere else for backup: Trump country.

Why it matters: With net neutrality rules under assault, proponents know they need to get the attention of policymakers with roots in the heartland to show support isn't isolated to the Silicon Valley bubble.

The push:

  • Ashley Boyd, who leads advocacy for Mozilla, said it was important for lawmakers and Trump to see what dismantling net neutrality rules could mean for their constituents. "Those voices in this situation could be very powerful," she said.
  • Sam Altman, the leader of startup incubator Y Combinator, is planning an upcoming swing through the midwest. "I'm actually going on a trip in two weeks to meet some tech companies in the midwest and just figure out what people are interested in, organizing, willing to do," he told Axios during a conversation in YC's offices in San Francisco's SoMa neighborhood. Asked how much he was thinking about rallying non-Bay Area startups, his response was quick: "A lot."
  • YC, incubator Techstars and advocacy group Engine pushed to get companies from all 50 states to sign on to a letter urging the FCC to keep the regulations. Techstars co-chief executive, David Cohen, published an op-ed on the issue in the Kansas City Star, the home state paper of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.
  • Evan Engstrom, Engine's executive director, said getting midwest startups involved is key to responding to new political realities. "That effort, I think, just kind of intensified after the election this time around," he said. "Because so much of the message was 'There's this great swath of the country that is economically downtrodden and what's the path forward?'"

But, but, but: Pai also argues that his proposal is in the best interest of rural Americans, which he says will benefit from increased broadband network investment after the regulations are peeled back. Don't expect him to give up that ground, since rural broadband expansion is a priority for him.

The bigger picture: The chasm between Washington and Silicon Valley can seem wide after an election that jarred the largely-liberal tech industry. That makes the voices of entrepreneurs outside tech hubs like New York and San Francisco all the more valuable in major policy debates.

Go deeper

Scoop: Garland defends DOJ's handling of Jan. 6 probe

Attorney General Merrick Garland. Photo: Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Attorney General Merrick Garland will tell the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday that federal prosecutors "are doing exactly what they are expected to do" in seeking accountability for the "intolerable assault" on the Capitol on Jan. 6, Axios has learned.

Why it matters: Allies of former President Trump, including Republican congressmen, have criticized the department's treatment rioters charged with crimes, and sought to recast the insurrection as a righteous protest. Garland's testimony with be his first appearance before the panel.

Updated 49 mins ago - World

Police charge man with murder of British MP David Amess

Police outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, England, on Oct. 15. Photo: John Keeble/Getty Images

Police said Thursday that Ali Harbi Ali, a 25-year-old British man, has been charged with the murder of David Amess, a Conservative Party lawmaker in the U.K.

The big picture: Last week, the Metropolitan Police declared the fatal stabbing a terrorist incident, saying that they had found "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."

54 mins ago - Health

Pfizer booster has 95.6% efficacy against COVID, large study shows

Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

A booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is 95.6% effective against the coronavirus, compared with those who only had the first two initial doses, according to a large study released Thursday.

Why it matters: The study, which had more than 10,000 participants aged 16 and older, is the first controlled, randomized trial looking at boosters and their effectiveness, the companies said.