As summer comes to a close, candidates in legislative districts all over Pennsylvania are sweating away at their respective county fairs and making as many rounds as possible to meet voters. But beyond the perfunctory shaking hands and kissing babies, the groundwork is being laid for a hopeful victory in November. Candidates will regularly be answering a myriad of questions from political insiders and potential donors, such as:
How many doors have you knocked on?
How much money have you raised?
How is your social media panning out?
How much money did you raise?
What is your opponent doing?
How much money did you raise?
Between the logistics of running a political campaign, managing staffers, raising money, developing a winning message, and contacting as many voters as possible, these candidates are about to be put through the pressure cooker in ways most of them cannot even begin to comprehend. There is a whole lot more going on than most people realize, and much of it will give you a clearer understanding of a candidate than any cookie‐cutter postcard you get in the mail.
Unfortunately, most local and regional newspapers drop the ball in spectacular fashion when it comes to covering legislative races. Instead of educating voters, the default position of today’s media is to largely ignore races unless they can generate some cheap internet traffic with a “gotcha” story. The result is an uninformed electorate during a period in American history when we can least afford voters to make uninformed decisions in the voting booth.
To combat this knowledge gap, Goose in the Gallows will be running an ongoing series between now and Election Day titled “2018: A Blue Hope?” The premise is simple. Our plan is to focus on legislative candidates, giving them a forum to educate voters about themselves, their campaign, and what they’re doing to win over voters.
The goal isn’t fluffy propaganda, nor is it “gotcha” journalism. We’ll be fair. We promise. No hidden agendas.
Since this project would create a fairly clear conflict of interest for me based on some none‐of‐your‐damn‐business work I’m doing this election cycle, I will be handing off the writing duties to award‐winning journalist and all‐around good person Amanda Gillooly. My involvement will be limited to background research, editing, and contributing my years of institutional knowledge in state legislative political races. In addition to working for numerous news outlets throughout western Pennsylvania, Amanda has covered politics and worked with both Democratic and Republican campaigns. But I’ll let her introduce herself in her own words very shortly.
You may be wondering, “Why are you only covering Democrats?” We have our reasons, some of which we will keep to ourselves, but basically, we have no desire to get into partisan pissing contests over every word we publish. More importantly, the narrative is focused on whether or not Democratic candidates can reclaim seats in Harrisburg, where the Republicans have significant majorities‐ especially in the State House of Representatives. In some cases, that may include contacting Republican candidates to allow them to comment or explain something their opponent said in the course of our reporting.
Who will be focusing on specifically? We have a short list of people we intend to contact, but we’re not excluding anyone. If you’re interested in being featured, shoot an email to [email protected] and we will be more than happy to talk about including your campaign. The plan is to do an interview and also have Amanda tag along on a campaign function of some sort to supplement her coverage. In return, you can feel free to use the piece as part of your campaign, and we will include your contact information and fundraising links at the end of the piece.
So that’s the plan. Hopefully, if we do our jobs right, we can help raise the level of public debate and help cut through the cloud of negativity permeating our political discourse, and there’s not a damn thing wrong with that.