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Telephone Town Halls

ELIZABETHTOWN, Ky. -- There isn't a town in Rep. Ron Lewis's (R) 2nd district larger than 54,000 so he is using techonology to communicate with broad swaths of voters.

Ohio River Ramble

Chris Cillizza

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Lewis conducted a "telephone town hall" last night in which he pre-recorded a phone message that was sent to approximately 30,000 people in the district. They were given the option of joining the call and participating in a live give and take with the Congressman. Lewis spokesman Mike Dodge (video below) said that the Congressman typically has between 500 and 600 people on the line at any one time and the queue to ask questions is usually 40-50 people long.

Dodge said that Lewis was "one of the first members" of Congress to use the telephone town hall technology and has done two in the campaign already.

Because the 2nd district takes in four media markets (Louisville, Evansville, Bowling Green and Lexington), and at least two of them (Louisville and Evansville) will be overwhelmed with campaign ads from races in Kentucky and Indiana, these town halls are an innovative way to cut through the television clutter and offer voters a chance to interact one on one with their member of Congress.

Video: Mike Dodge explains how the Telephone Town Hall works. Click the player to view the video.

Next up is a trip down the Dixie Highway to a sit down with former state Rep. Mike Weaver (D) who is hoping to unseat Lewis this fall.

-- Chris Cillizza

By Chris Cillizza  |  September 20, 2006; 12:10 PM ET
Categories:  House , Ohio River Ramble  
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Next: Kentucky's 2nd: The Challenger's Money Chase


If you don't see this for what it is -- a way around the franking rules and a way to collect data on voters -- you're an even bigger idiot than I thought.

Posted by: TomT | September 20, 2006 5:18 PM | Report abuse

It's hard to believe that 30,000 people were happy to receive a pre-recorded political message from whomever, for whatever reason.

Interesting concept though. May be a boon for the cell phone generation. Would love to hear the reaction of a truly independent participant.

Posted by: Truth Hunter | September 20, 2006 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Technology is doing much to enhance citizen participation in politics. But one thing I leanrned canvassing in 2004 is that there is no substitute for neighborhors knocking on doors.

Posted by: Intrepid Liberal Journal | September 20, 2006 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Since this technology costs money and is a form of paid communication, shouldn't its use be restricted in the days leading to an election, like the use of government paid mailings?

The post would have been more interesting if we were told how the 30,000 numbers were chosen, what voters were asking about, etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | September 20, 2006 1:32 PM | Report abuse

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