This entire election season Democratic Gubernatorial Candidate Gina Raimondo has had the largest campaign coffer of all the Democrats. The candidate has run a tight campaign and has been out with ads for weeks now but she also has a different use for her money.
While she, like the other Democratic candidate, has sponsored several Facebook ads and has bought tons air time, Raimondo is also spending some cash paying people to canvass local neighborhoods for her.
While a lot of candidates do not have the luxury to hire people to canvass on their behalf and instead need to rely on the efforts of volunteers, Raimondo does have the money and she is not shy about it. Raimondo has placed ads on craigslist and internmatch.com asking for “paid canvassers.” She also has hung fliers in local coffee shops such as White Electric Coffee in Providence. The flier includes a tab of paper you can pull off with a phone number to get more information.
The ad is a little hokey, starting off like one of those work at home and make thousands kind of spiels.
The ad reads: “Need a job over the summer?
Looking for part-time work in the evenings or on weekends?
Want to gain campaign experience?
And strengthen your resume while working for a great Democrat?
Want to elect the first woman governor in RI history?
Ideal candidates should:
Be enthusiastic and passionate about Gina Raimondo
Have excellent communication skills and a willingness to learn
Must have the ability to work in the evening and on weekends
Have the ability to walk door-to-door for 4+ hours per day.”
While some might criticize the ad as seeming a bit desperate, it could also be construed as a bit genius. Raimondo has got tons of money, she already has ads, and she realizes that this three way primary could ultimately hinge on the ground game and the get out the vote efforts of the three candidates. If Raimondo hires hundreds of canvassers for the days leading up to the primary and on the day of the primary itself, she could score big time when it comes out to GOTV efforts. Unless of course the hired canvassers turn people off to the candidate. Hiring canvassers isn't all that common in little Rhode Island but this race is not all that common either.
With the age of Netflix, Hulu, and DVR's some people aren't consuming television the way they used to, so they may not be catching the paid advertisements, thus making door to door leafleting more important.
Meanwhile, Raimondo's hired help will be able to contend against the public sector unions that will likely be out in force behind Clay Pell. Taveras too will enjoy union support in his GOTV effort as well as support from the minority community. Taveras' GOTV efforts are nothing to laugh at. During the 2012 election for Central Falls Mayor it was Taveras' people that got behind James Diossa and turned out voters who typically stayed home on Election Day for a special primary. The question is how do Taveras' efforts play out on a statewide level.
As for Raimondo, the question is whether hiring help looks disingenuous or whether it is a way to stimulate the economy and her campaign. Raimondo is successfully capitalizing on unemployment and the unemployed people and college students that are likely responding to the ad probably don't mind the paycheck. She can make the argument that she is independent from unions and helping people who are out of work make some money. Meanwhile her opponents are likely to see it as a cheap campaign tactic that Raimondo can pull off because of her well endowed bank account, while they are relying on people dedicated to their candidate. Either way, it is a different kind of strategy to take and we will all see whether it was effective or not on primary day next month. Dee DeQuattro is the assignment desk manager and digital news coordinator for ABC6. She studied politics and communications and holds a master's degree from Providence College. Follow her on twitter @deedequattro and log on to ABC6 .com for her latest in depth coverage of politics and news.