Brianna Wu announced April 28 she has ended her 2020 campaign for Congress. It was Wu’s second attempt to unseat incumbent Stephen Lynch in Massachusetts’ District 8. Both are Democrats.
Her statement on Medium, titled “How would I feel if someone died going to vote for me?” explains why the social effects of the pandemic and associated risks led to her decision to drop out of the race.
…Before the coronavirus hit, my campaign was very well poised to compete. Slowly and steadily, we’ve built up an army of small dollar donors, and every quarter our filing was larger than the last….
Most of that money had been invested into a killer field operation. This had been my plan for two years: to quietly raise money, building up an army. And then, to flood the district from May to September. The Democratic presidential primary had given us amazing data. We knew not just which towns would vote for us, but which specific precincts. We would be very competitive. Engineers are not optimists by nature, but judging from the data, I felt confident in our chances.
And then coronavirus hit.
Suddenly, new questions began to keep me up at night. How would I feel if someone on my team caught COVID-19 executing our plan? How would I feel if someone on my team died? How would I feel if someone died going to vote for me?
This is not a theoretical question, we are at war with a pandemic, and life and death matters are at stake.
At the end of her first run for office in 2018 she tweeted: “I’ve said this in interviews before, but my biggest mistake early on was NOT HIRING EXPERIENCED PEOPLE at the beginning. I thought I could do it like a startup, and we could learn as we went. By the time I realized that was a failing strategy, it was too late.”
She expanded on that in her latest statement, saying:
The biggest lesson I learned in 2018 is you cannot win a congressional election with digital alone. We tried this in 2018, doing amazingly well for a first time candidate and getting almost half the votes we needed to win. But, a lot of people are simply not reachable through ads, as Mike Bloomberg can attest to. When you hold digital events, the people that show up tend to already support you. The other half of my win number would have to come from canvassing and local events. That is not possible to pursue in an ethical way.
The other factor is what voting will look like in September. I dearly hope our legislature will do the right thing and move to an all mail-in ballot system, mailing one to every registered voter’s home. But the truth is, the best thing for our democracy would seriously disadvantage my campaign. An all-absentee ballot race would favor the incumbent with higher in-district name recognition.
Wu concluded, “I’m not sure what’s next for me. I’ll be taking time to mourn and find my balance. I’ll let all of you know when I figure it out.”