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Candidates have new strategies to win voters amid COVID-19 restrictions

Posted at 6:29 PM, May 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-06 11:42:31-04

CINCINNATI — With no large rallies, parades or church or community festivals, COVID-19 is changing the way political candidates reach out to voters.

If you’re a voter, expect to get more political calls and texts in coming months even as candidates ramp up a new digital approach that scored votes in last week's Ohio Primary.

When the coronavirus-delayed election drained some campaigns four weeks longer before the voting deadline, Democrats Kate Schroder and Fanon Rucker hopped on Facebook Live and Zoom to meet and greet voters and charm donors.

"There are also some silver linings,” said Schroder, the Democratic candidate for U.S. representative from Ohio’s First District. “You can have events that people from out-of-town join them or people outside of the district that normally couldn't, and so we are really finding creative ways to do this."

"You can have all the money in the world,” said Rucker, Democratic candidate for Hamilton County prosecutor, “but if you don't have momentum and energy behind you, it doesn't really present as an advantage. That's what we have."

Both Schroder and Rucker won by greater than 2-to-1 margins. But they face much tougher competition in November.

Rucker's opponent, long-time incumbent prosecutor Joe Deters, beat Rucker before and has another campaign loaded with donors.

"I didn't mind them having a primary, by the way. That was nice," said Deters, who wasn’t challenged in the Republican primary.

With shaking hands and kissing babies out of the question, Deters said he’ll go online to spread his message.

"We have a pretty heavy digital presence right now and we're going to continue that," Deters said.

Schroder’s opponent, Rep. Steve Chabot, has a war chest eight times richer than Schroder’s and has won races like this for 34 years. But without go-to events like festivals and parades, Chabot also plans to do more digital campaigning.

"That will probably be a little different this time,” said Chabot, who also was unopposed in the primary. “We do need to be very responsible and be conscious of social distancing ourselves so that we don't have a spike in this coronavirus pandemic that we've been hit so hard with in our community."