Democratic runoff candidates talk about political battle amid coronavirus pandemic

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Mobile, Ala. (WKRG) — Those who will be voting in the Democratic runoff for candidates vying for the nomination in the first district shouldn’t have to spend too much time in the voting booth. Two names are on the ballot.

Spanish Fort biologist Dr. Kiani Gardner and Marine Corps veteran James Averhart are both looking for the nomination. Both said the pandemic added another dynamic to the already uphill balle of Democrats running for Congres in the First Congressional District, a historically Republican district.

Gardner, as a scientist, drew on digital media and her strengths.

“So we went digital really fast, set up with social media so we switched gears really quickly. Set up a youtube series, it’s on Facebook as well–called quarantine with Kiani, just walking through the science of the pandemic and some of the policy issues surrounding it,” she told WKRG News 5.

On the other hand, Averhart, a career Marine, also used digital media to get out his message, but he went a little farther down the grassroots path by traveling the district in an RV, while maintaining social distancing with people he met.

“I had a moving billboard and I could go out and I could just park and hold signs and what not—and people, with ppe on will come up and ask for information and things of that nature,” he said.

Whichever candidate wins the runoff, both expect to get help from the national Democratic Party heading into the general election.

“Those organizations, they’re staying impartial and they have to be so they can get behind whoever, or whomever the candidate may be,” said Averhart.

Gardner said, “The fact that you’re seeing so much money coming to the republicans in this race is really a good indicator that there is awareness of what we’re trying to do, but also how important this open seat is.”

The winner of the Democratic runoff will go on to face the winner of the Republican runoff, either Jerry Carl or Bill Hightower, in November.

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