Democratic candidates running for state and federal seats are taking an unorthodox approach to boosting voter turnout this year.
Instead of tours, rallies and door-knocking ahead of Tuesday’s upcoming primary election, the Washington State Democratic Party is holding a series of virtual Get-Out-The-Vote tour stops via Zoom.
The party’s chair, Tina Podlodowski, is hosting candidates from a different region every evening through Tuesday.
The nightly events include a broadcast introduction with the candidates before participants break out for a training session and join volunteers making calls to local households.
“Normally I would be all around the state of Washington in my car, with our folks jumping in and out of all the different campaign offices we have all around the state, but the pandemic doesn’t allow us to do that,” Podlodowski said.
On Tuesday, the tour “stopped” in Southwest Washington. The virtual event included congressional candidate Carolyn Long and two candidates for the Legislature: Daniel Smith, who’s seeking the 17th District Senate seat, and Donna Sinclair, seeking an 18th District House seat.
Smith and Sinclair are in races with only two candidates on the ballot, so are almost certain to advance to the general election ballot in November. Long faces the Republican incumbent, two other Democrats and one independent.
“COVID-19 has sort of waylaid our traditional ways of campaigning,” Long said. “We know how to adjust and we know how to adapt in order to get people out to vote.”
Long is challenging Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground, for the second time. She lost to the congresswoman in 2018 with about 47 percent of the districtwide vote. She’s running her 2020 campaign on a platform of affordable health care, high-speed broadband access and general accessibility to her would-be constituents.
Tanisha Harris, another second-time candidate running for a state House seat in the 17th Legislative District, participated in the virtual tour Friday.
In 2018, Harris lost to Rep. Vicki Kraft by 856 votes. It was a tough loss, Harris said, and she’s grateful for the continued backing of Podlodowski and the state party.
“We’ve had some rough goes lately here in Clark County, and we’ve had some really close races over the years, and the fact the people are not giving up on us and are still with us saying, ‘We believe in our candidates, we believe that we can flip the 17th and we can flip the 3rd (Congressional District,)’ means everything,” Harris said.
The full candidate conversations are posted on the state party’s Facebook page, available at facebook.com/washdems.