Candidates for Richmond Mayor talk campaigning during COVID-19

Candidates for Richmond Mayor talk campaigning during COVID-19

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - This week marked the deadline to file to run for Mayor of Richmond. There are plenty of names in that hat, all vying for your vote during a public health pandemic.

"This is really unprecedented in the modern era and you have to be creative as a candidate and as a campaign to capitalize on the differences or even just to get through them," said Larry Sabato, UVa Center for Politics Executive Director.

One challenge for candidates has been getting enough signatures to even be on the ballot.

“I did it while we were in full lock down and we were in limbo about whether signatures would be lowered or delayed and all those sorts of things,” said Justin Griffin, candidate for Richmond Mayor.

Then, there's getting the message out between now and November.

"It's definitely different. We understand not only with the public health crisis but the civil rights crisis that a lot of Richmonders are hurting," said Alexsis Rodgers, candidate for Richmond Mayor. "It's a tough time to be talking about politics."

Some of the top candidates say they are doing smaller meet and greets now that health restrictions are lifting. Others are keeping it virtual for now.

"Without being able to appeal directly to people for donations, for support, for votes," said Sabato. "It's not going to be easy but it has to be done."

Political analysts say candidates have to spend more money now on advertising. That includes television, radio and digital.

The economic fallout from COVID-19 is also taking its toll on fundraising efforts. Some campaigns suspended asking for donations at the height of the pandemic.

“A lot of phone contact and mail as usual. It is harder to have events, fundraising events but we are going to begin scheduling those really soon,” said Kim Gray, candidate for Richmond Mayor.

Meanwhile, incumbent Levar Stoney’s campaign released a statement:

"COVID-19 has certainly changed the way we run campaigns. The Mayor's favorite part about campaigning has always been meeting voters where they're at - in their homes, at barbershops and restaurants, and at events around the city - and we are finding new and innovative ways to continue that while maintaining social distancing and following the advice of our health officials. We hope to be out on the campaign trail doing more traditional campaign events later this year, but until then, you'll continue to see the Mayor using technology to have important conversations about the future of the city."

Expect to see the campaigns visibly pick back up around Labor Day.

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