Hours before primary, candidates alter final pitches due to pandemic

Tuesday is primary election night in our state and that means voters have until 8 p.m. to get their ballots into an official drop box. 

Like most things, the COVID-19 crisis is a game changer when it comes to politics and last-minute campaigning. 

“The single most powerful tool that candidates used to have is to go door to door," said Congressman Denny Heck, a Democrat, who is now running for lieutenant governor. "Nobody wants to see anybody at their door right now.” 

Heck has almost solely been holding virtual campaign events, including nine town hall meetings on Facebook.

“I spend way less time in my car polluting the air and way more time having interaction with people over video conferencing," Heck said. 

Does he prefer this new way of campaigning?

"We’ll find out tomorrow night whether this is working for me, won't we?" Heck joked about receiving the results of the primary election.   

One of Heck’s competitors in the primary, Republican conservative radio host Marty McClendon, is not shying away from in-person events. He has traveled to to every county in the state to meet directly with voters.

"Knowing that those who feel comfortable enough going out to a public park to meet a statewide candidate, they will," McClendon said. "And it means a lot to them that you show up in person, even in the midst of this (COVID-19) stuff.” 

State Senator Marko Liias, a Democrat, is also running for lieutenant governor. He's tapping into the power of his people, his volunteer phone banks reaching 100,000 voters, according to Liias' campaign.  

Former Tacoma mayor, now candidate for congress Marilyn Strickland, is delivering her closing arguments during a weekly discussion on Facebook Live. It highlights how campaigning has changed, like the issues critical to voters.  

"When I declared my candidacy back in September, none of us imagined we’d be in a pandemic, an economic crisis, and social unrest because of racial injustice, and here we are,” said Strickland.

$30 car tab advocate, now Republican candidate for governor Tim Eyman is going old school.  Unveiling his brand new sign on an I-5 overpass that says, "Fire Inslee."  He hopes drivers below also want to replace current governor Jay Inslee.  

“The day that Inslee said 'Stay at home', I defied it and stayed out there, and kept fighting and kept making the argument, while all of the other candidates stayed home," said Eyman.  

Not all candidates changed their tactics due to new guidelines implimented during the pandemic.

Eyman's republican challenger Loren Culp has been holding big rallies, one with almost two-thousand people at a concert in the town of Buckley, according to the campaign.  

Culp is already planning an "Insubordinate Victory Rally" for Tuesday night in Leavenworth. More than 500 people have said they plan to attend. According to the campaign, masks will be offered, but not required.  

Highlighting the radically different approaches to campaigning, candidates are pushing forward during the era of COVID-19.

To be counted, voters must have their primary ballot postmarked by Tuesday or put in a ballot drop box by 8 pm.