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Political campaigns halt during coronavirus outbreak

By Liz Moomey

liz.moomey@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — The COVID-19 outbreak has caused delays on the campaign trail.

In-person campaigning is halted as the CDC has recommended to cancel gathering of more than 10 people. And Gov. Roy Cooper banned gatherings of more than 50 people.

Cooper for NC, the re-election campaign of the Democratic governor, announced Thursday it would stop all in-person campaign events, which included fundraisers, for the next 30 days.

“This campaign is heeding the advice of Governor Cooper and top health experts to make sure we do what we can to protect the health and safety of North Carolinians,” said Cooper’s campaign manager Trey Nix.

Campaign Communication Director Liz Doherty said in-person campaigning will resume when it’s appropriate.

The campaign moved to virtual events and online engagement of voters, she said. Doherty said organizing will be done through Facebook groups and peer-to-peer groups. She said they are contacting community leaders and key stakeholders. Internally, the campaign has switched its meetings to video calls.

“We’re all in the same boat,” Doherty said. “We’re all adjusting with this new normal.”

Lt. Gov. Dan Forest, who is running as a Republican candidate for governor, has postponed two events this week — a Reception at Carolina Exotic Car Club in Raleigh on Tuesday and Eastern N.C. Gun Raffle for Dan Forest for Governor in Elm City on Thursday.  He still has an event scheduled in Mocksville for March 31.

Forest’s communication director Andrew Dunn said the campaign will continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis.

U.S. Rep. Budd’s re-election campaign has also decided to suspend its in-person campaign events and door-to-door efforts but will continue campaigning through online and by phone, according to Michael Luethy, who is with his campaign. Budd is a Republican who currently represents the 13th District, the only one that will cover Rowan County after this year.

Scott Huffman, a Democrat who is challenging Budd, also has canceled his campaign events due to COVID-19. The campaign will no longer participate in “Get out the vote,” canvassing or door-to-door campaigning. Scott Huffman for Congress posted on Facebook Monday that the campaign would be going “old school,” with phone calls, letters, postcards, radio and newsprint media to reach voters.

Doherty said Cooper is focused on leading the state through the coronavirus outbreak.

Forest is continuing his work as lieutenant governor and state Board of Education member.

Luethy said the Budd campaign believes it is important to follow President Donald Trump’s call to self-quarantine for the next 15 days to limit the spread of coronavirus in North Carolina.

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