By Kathleen Gray
Detroit Free Press
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) From “speed dating” to film screenings, political candidates are finding new ways to connect with voters.
Detroit Free Press
Joe McCauley approached the event at Northville High School last month like any anxious suitor looking for his political soul mate.
Who would he connect with? Who would be best on their feet, answering the unscripted questions thrown their way?
“I was quite pleasantly surprised” by the stable of candidates, said the Northville Township retired mailman. “This is something where all of them are here and you get to know them in a more personal way.”
Welcome to candidate “speed dating,” a new phenomenon this election cycle where those seeking elective office sit in the midst of a circle of up to 10 voters, who, when a whistle sounds every 15 minutes, move from circle to circle trying to get a sense of the people who might represent them in Lansing or Washington D.C.
The event sponsored by the Northville Democratic Club had the feel of a speed dating party. More than a dozen candidates running at all levels of government, including all six Democrats running in the 11th Congressional District, filled the room and patiently waited to find their political mates.
“What makes you better than the rest of the people here?” one woman asked 11th District congressional candidate Suneel Gupta, a Livonia Democrat, who replied that he is the only one with a background in computer programming.
Another asked Democratic gubernatorial candidate Shri Thanedar, “What’s your spiritual background?” — to which the candidate responded that he was raised Hindu.
“I realized early on that everybody was doing the same thing and we had to come up with something different,” said Lori Goldman, one of the founding members of Fems for Dems, a women’s group that formed in the months after the election of Republican Donald Trump as president and has since grown to 900 members, mostly in metro Detroit.