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What is it like running for state office in COVID-19 era? Let UK fan Tiffany Dunn explain

Tiffany Dunn

By LARRY VAUGHT

As we are all trying to cope with the new normal because of COVID-19 I wondered what it might be like to be a political candidate and trying to campaign due to social distancing and restrictions against gatherings of groups.

I knew Tiffany Dunn was a Kentucky fan because of Twitter and then I realized she was running against House Speaker David Osborne in the June Republican primary in the District 59 race that covers most of Oldham County. Osborne has been in office since 2005 but Dunn, a teacher, is banking on her education ties/support can help her win.

Dunn is a Hardin County native who played softball at Bellarmine College and then moved to Oldham County.

“I have been a member of Big Blue Nation since I was born. I grew up in household where there was no other team you cheered for,” she said. “Being a Wildcat fan has been passed down through our family generation to generation; you’d be disowned if you weren’t one. Some of my fondest memories as a child are watching basketball games with my family.

“And although my husband is a University of Louisville fan, I have raised our daughter to cheer for the Cats. I’m also a huge Kentucky Sports Radio fan. Although I can’t listen live, I turn on the podcast every day during my commute to and from work.”

Her passion for Kentucky sports obviously is the same type passion she has for public office. Dunn quickly agreed to share her thoughts on how COVID-19 has changed what she can and can’t do in her campaign. Enjoy her insights/perspective on a COVID-19 election campaign.

Question: What made you decide to run for office?
Dunn: “I decided to run for office because I don’t feel like the constituents of Oldham County’s 59th district are being represented well in Frankfort. I’ve been a lifelong Republican but only began to get involved in politics a few years ago. When I did, I realized the need for regular folks like myself to run for office. If we don’t, we will never have our best interests looked after. There’s too much petty, partisan politics being played and our commonwealth is suffering as a result — something has to be done and if not me, than who?”

Question: How challenging is that now, especially running against an incumbent, with the COVID-19 restriction?
Dunn: “It is difficult running against an incumbent. It’s extremely difficult running against a well-funded House leader incumbent. And it’s unbelievably difficult doing this while not having the ability to meet constituents. From the moment I decided to run, I looked forward to canvassing and meeting voters. It’s really any grassroots campaign’s bread and butter. My campaign canvassed for about a month with great results, but it came to a screeching halt when the Covid-19 pandemic hit the nation. I have been able to send postcards to likely primary voters, but even that became difficult with the uncertainty of the primary date changing and the manner of how we would vote changing. Now with everything becoming a bit more concrete, I am restarting my campaign to fit the ‘new normal.’”

Question: Does social media become an even bigger part of campaigning now?
Dunn: “Social media will hopefully be a big part of my campaign in the next couple of months. Because of COVID-19, my fundraising came to a complete halt as well. I didn’t and still don’t feel comfortable asking for campaign donations of individuals when so many people are struggling during this time. Although elections are important, people’s livelihoods take precedence. So my online presence will probably be the cheaper grassroots version: word of mouth.”

Question: Are you enjoying the process/challenge so far?
Dunn: “Running for office has been very rewarding and challenging. It’s been rewarding because I’ve met so many fantastic people. All of my campaign donations so far have come from individuals from both parties who believe in my mission of making government work for everyone. The challenge has been in all of the planning and man hours it takes to put an effective campaign together with limited funds. And of course, the COVID-19 has not helped. Luckily, I have fantastic supporters who are walking alongside me the entire way. This certainly isn’t something I could ever do alone.”

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