Frozen pens, rain-frazzled hair and thermal-insulated snowsuits aren’t typically the things of political campaigns, but cold weather campaigning has been the only option for the candidates of the 16th Suffolk District over the last few weeks due to a unique race that has transpired over one of the worst winter stretches in years.
Snow came down and the temperatures dipped into the teens for several days earlier this month, but nonetheless candidates Josh Monahan, Linda Santos Rosa and RoseLee Vincent – all Democrats vying for election in next week’s March 4 Primary – have not taken a day off or curled up on the coach to make phone calls.
There simply is not enough time.
Republican Todd Taylor, to his credit, has also been out in the weather, he said, despite not having to participate in the Primary Election.
The Democrats though, have been out in the thick of it; and oh the stories they have to tell.
“People are tired and they’re inside and they certainly aren’t out and about,” said Vincent. “Usually during an election time people are gardening, walking or getting out of the house. When you campaign then, it’s easy to find people. It’s been harder getting to people in this election because it’s just been so cold. It’s been a challenge; it’s hard knocking on doors when it’s raining or snowing. I understand now why most elections are in September.”
Meanwhile, Rosa said she has found it tough to get out, but has also used non-outdoor activities like networking, advertisements, billboards and coffee hours. To get through the piles of snow she said she’s used good old New England moxie to keep going.
“I’ll be honest; I’m really a New Englander,” she said. “I love the change of seasons. We didn’t go out in the real bitter cold, obviously, but we did go out a few weeks ago when it was snowing so badly. Again though, I’m a New Englander and I like the harsh weather. You can meet people any time of the year. You meet some real warm-hearted people bundled up in the cold weather.”
Monahan said he found out what he was in for in the cold weather campaign when he gathered signatures for his nomination papers outside the Revere Stop & Shop in single-digit temperatures.
“The response in all three communities as I’ve gone door knocking has been warm and I have to say that helps,” Monahan said. “I’ve worked on a freight dock loading trucks to save up money for books, so the skin on my hands can take tough weather. There are a lot of people out there regularly working in the cold so I can’t really complain. It just reminds me of the working-class district that I am looking to represent and it motivates me to keep at it. A good team working with me, and some good hand-warmers, has made it easier.
“I do think the game changes when the weather is unsafe to drive in,” he continued. “Then I am relying on cold calling folks and trying to make a connection that I might be able to follow up on in person once weather clears.”
Echoing all of the candidates’ sentiments – all of who have slipped on the ice or have gone face first in the snow – Vincent said there just hasn’t been enough time in the short campaign.
“This is not your ordinary campaign,” she said. “We’re doing in six weeks what campaigns normally do in six months. It’s not possible to do everything we want to do – especially battling the elements. I would love to knock on every door in Chelsea, Revere and Saugus, but it’s physically impossible. I think each of the candidates feels the same way. We all want to do more, but the weather has made it difficult.”
The District 16 state rep primary election will take place next Tuesday, March 4 (exactly one week after the casino referendum). Polls will open at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. The winner will face Taylor – who is unopposed – in the April 1 final election.