The challenges of campaigning during a pandemic

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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) There was a robust debate about climate and Vermont's demographics on the campaign trail, and then COVID-19 took over. Our Calvin Cutler reports on how this is influencing the issues on the campaign trail.

The public health emergency and subsequent financial crisis are taking center stage this election cycle, with the dialogue focused on keeping Vermonters healthy and keeping our economy intact.

Vermont has seen about three decades' worth of job growth slashed in just about three months.

We're going to hear a lot about candidates' ideas to bolster state revenue, but also where to make touch choices and trim the budget.

Still, many candidates are focusing on non-COVID-19 issues, such as curbing greenhouse gasses, keeping the Vermont State Colleges System alive and addressing our demographic crisis.

And it's a crowded field. There are more than 20 candidates running for governor and lieutenant governor in Vermont. Because of the coronavirus, the secretary of state's office waived the requirement for the collection of signatures to get on the ballot.

Additionally, this legislative session ran late, ending last Friday, meaning candidates like Lt. Gov. David Zuckerman and others in the Legislature haven't had the time to make campaigning their top priority.

Also, social distancing and limitations on gathering have posed a challenge to candidates trying to get their messages out because events have to be conducted over video chat.

Incumbent Republican Gov. Phil Scott, who's seeking re-election, says he isn't actively campaigning during the state of emergency. But the governor has remained in the spotlight during the pandemic with his weekly press conferences and frequent press coverage.