Challenges of campaigning in the COVID era

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WILLISTON, Vt. (WCAX) Vermont Lieutenant Governor David Zuckerman kicked off his campaign for governor Sunday, hosting a concert drive-in at the Isham Family farm in Williston. But Zuckerman and other candidates are finding that in-person campaigning is presenting new challenges in the midst of a pandemic.

"It's great to see people come out. It's a new way of doing things so it's hard to know what to expect," says Steve Crowley of South Burlington.

Supporters of Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman's run for governor say they didn't know what this event would look like, but it was clear from emails and volunteers that safety was a priority.

"It seems really organized. It seems like they really have -- they know what they're doing. They have like one staffer per row, so there's not a lot of staffers coming around and they gave people clear instructions on what they should do, so it seemed really good," says Dan Fingas of Montpelier.

Zuckerman says it's important Vermonters not need to choose between supporting their candidates and their own safety. "We we're trying to think about ways we could, have a group event in a safe, respectful way," he said.

This led to the idea of hosting a concert/speaker series at the Isham Family Farm, with guests staying in or around their vehicles and being directed and served by volunteers. Some supporters say they wouldn't have come to Sunday's event if it was held indoors.

"We're just starting to kind of incorporate this in, and I wouldn't be going to an indoor event right now. So, an outdoor event is okay on that kind of risk-analysis." says Maureen Lynch of Montpelier.

"Everything about this campaign is different. This rally is different and this election's going to be different" admits Zuckerman.

Three other Democrats are running against Zuckerman in the August primary. Rebecca Holcombe, the former Vt. secretary of education, is also doing unconventional events, participating in virtual house parties, and town halls via Zoom. Her campaign has no in-person events scheduled.

We could find no public events for the two other Democrats running for governor -- Ralph Corbo and Patrick Winburn.