coronavirus

Politics in the Age of Coronavirus: ‘All Gloves, All Face Masks’

The deadly new coronavirus has transformed how politics are being run in Massachusetts and across the state, especially for lesser-known candidates trying to get their names out there

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When Gretchen Van Ness ran for state representative two years ago she did it the old-fashioned way: face-to-face retail politicking.  

“It was such an inspiring experience, but I’m really sad that we can’t do that right now,” she said.

The deadly new coronavirus has transformed how politics are being run in Massachusetts and across the state, especially for lesser-known candidates trying to get their names out there.

Now running again for the Hyde Park seat, Van Ness is realizing the brand-new challenges of campaigning. It means a lot of emails, social media and phone calls.

Her opponent, Ron Consalvo, is doing all of the above.

“I’ve literally called hundreds of voters across the district in the last two weeks," he said.

Gov. Charlie Baker urged Massachusetts residents to focus less on reopening the state and more on social distancing.

The former Boston City Councilor, also a Democratic candidate in the race, said he was able to turn in the 200 signatures necessary to get on the ballot thanks to volunteers wearing gloves and masks dropping signature sheets around the neighborhood. 

It was “very safe, practicing social distancing, no human contact. All gloves, all face masks,” Consalvo said.

In the Fourth District congressional race, democrat Alan Khazei has had some high-profile endorsements from General Stanley McChrystal and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Jake Auchincloss was first to turn in his signatures, and all the candidates have held countless virtual town halls.

But with so much focus on the pandemic, which has killed more than 2,000 people the state as of Wednesday, not many are paying attention. Which is why some candidates are using more creative ways of getting people’s attention. Jesse Mermell, tweeted out her social media Blooper reel. 

All the candidates hope to have an opportunity to debate sometime this summer, if not in person than in a remote way. 

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