On the Trail With Jeff Beals
Progressives like Jeff Beals argue that Democrats should change how they run their campaigns: spend less time fundraising, rely less on TV ads and political mailers, and devote more time to reaching voters in person. Beals hasn't raised the kind of money a candidate would need for TV and mailers, and his campaign is diverting almost all of its money and energy into that kind of voter outreach, hoping they can still compete. As we document in this week’s show, he’s running for Congress in New York’s 19th Congressional district.
When candidates talk to voters, it's always kind of a charm offensive. But Beals's conversations are more ideological. He’s looking for voters who distrust Democratic Party institutions and who are frustrated about the economic issues that define progressive campaigns like his. Often it seems like his conversations on people’s doorsteps come down to that. Either people agree with Beals on these issues, or they don't.
Beals told me that we’d all like to believe that running for office means convincing people about ideas. That it’s about persuasion. But during this campaign, he's realized it's much more about just finding people who already feel the way he does, and trying to make sure they come out to vote.
In the final weeks of the primary election in New York 19th, Beals is devoting almost all of his time to canvassing. Beals is a high school teacher and school's finally out for the summer, so he can spend every day knocking on doors, starting from around 8 or 9 in the morning, and going until 9 at night.
Sam Hodgson went out with Beals for a day and took these photos.
- Ben Calhoun