Arizona Senate candidates adjust campaign strategies during COVID-19

Published: Aug. 5, 2020 at 10:45 AM EDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - After winning their primaries Tuesday, senate candidates Mark Kelly and Sen. Martha McSally are now looking to the November election. The winner will finish out the late Sen. John McCain’s term. As coronavirus cases have surged statewide, the candidates have had to adapt to find new ways to spread their message.

Two former combat fighter pilots are battling to represent Arizona in the Senate.

But with more than 180 thousand coronavirus cases in the state, the candidates are adjusting their campaign strategies to reach voters.

“We don’t want to be involved in spreading this virus,” said candidate Mark Kelly.

Before COVID-19, Mark Kelly traveled all over the state. But when the pandemic hit, he took his campaign completely virtual. Kelly’s team said he has participated in at least 40 virtual events, Zoom calls, roundtables and phone banks.

Recent polls have him leading the November race, some only by a small margin.

He said he is not worried about the numbers.

“I think it would be an irresponsible thing to do to go out in public,” said Kelly.

Critics of Kelly’s opponent Sen. Martha McSally (R-AZ) have raised concerns because, while the senator has hosted more than 30 virtual events, she is still holding in-person gatherings.

McSally declined our request for an interview to explain her strategy, but Deputy Communication Director for the Republican National Committee Rick Gorka said McSally’s approach to connect with voters will lead her to victory.

“Mark Kelly is really following the Joe Biden model of hiding in the basement trying to control his message,” said Gorka. “Martha McSally is holding events and being accountable and accessible and safe to her constituents.”

Digital consultant Colin Delany said virtual campaigning may be here to stay at least until the pandemic is behind us because people are craving social interaction.

“People who may not have done a FaceTime call with a volunteer or had a text exchange with a staffer are much more open to doing that now,” said Delany.

There are 90 days left until the November 3 election.

If people are voting by mail, the deadline is much sooner than November 3. Click here to get more information.

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