SEEKONK, Mass. (WPRI) — Coronavirus has forced all political candidates to find new ways of reaching voters.
Now Dave Cavell, who is seeking the Democratic nomination in Massachusetts’ 4th Congressional District, is trying to bring digital innovation to the most old-school of electioneering tactics: door-knocking.
Cavell’s campaign announced Wednesday it is launching a new tech platform called rep’d (spelled with a lower-case “r”) that will allow voters to ask him questions and get an alert when he records a video answer.
Residents of the 4th District — which stretches from northern Fall River through the Attleboros and Taunton up to the Boston border — can visit davecavell.repd.us to submit a question or see what else he’s already answered.
“Even though we can’t do, you know, the regular door-knocking, this allows us to actually mimic it to actually give people an opportunity to ask me questions and to think about what’s important to them,” Cavell told WPRI 12.
Cavell said he approached a friend from Tufts University, David Baumwoll, early in the COVID-19 pandemic and asked him about building the platform, which Baumwoll did along with his brother, Mike.
“I think this could be a model for a lot of people going forward about how to do this and how to talk to people when we aren’t able to do it in person,” Cavell said.
Cavell — whose political resumé includes stints with Attorney General Maura Healey, former Gov. Deval Patrick and President Obama — is one of nine Democrats who qualified this month for the Sept. 1 Democratic primary. The 4th District seat is opening up as the incumbent, Democrat Joe Kennedy III, moves on to challenge U.S. Sen. Ed Markey.
No public polling has been conducted in the race, but Cavell ranked fifth in campaign fundraising as of March 31, taking in just over $300,000, according to Federal Election Commission reports.
Cavell has touted a number of endorsements, including from former State Comptroller Tom Shack, who was briefly a 4th District candidate himself, as well as the current and past chairs of the Brookline Select Board and Pod Save America host Jon Favreau, a fellow Obama administration alum. And he says he’s in the race for the long haul.
“This is the work,” he said. “You’ve got to be able to explain not just what you want to do but why, and why that should matter to people, and that’s what I’m ready to do.”
Ted Nesi (firstname.lastname@example.org) is WPRI 12’s politics and business editor and a Target 12 investigative reporter. He is a weekly panelist on Newsmakers and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook