Expect Goutam Jois to run as an outsider.
In a tele-town hall on Sunday that Jois, who is running for the Democratic nomination to challenge Rep. Leonard Lance for the seventh district’s congressional seat, said was heard by more than 4,500 callers, the candidate flaunted his progressive positions while collecting data on where the district’s voters stand on certain issues.
The call broached a variety of topics, with Jois fielding questions on immigration, taxes, the environment, gun control, voting rights, money in politics, marijuana and foreign intervention.
Jois’s answers often fell in line with progressive stances on issues, and the candidate often tried to differentiate himself from Lance, including by taking shots at the tax bill Republicans passed late last year, which Lance voted against.
The call featured several flash polls that participants could respond to using their phone’s keypad. In a call after the town hall, Jois said the polls did not match respondents’ answers with their phone numbers. While such polls lack certain elements that would make them reliable in a scientific setting, they could provide Jois with valuable information on how to approach certain issues.
For example, almost 90% of callers that responded to the poll said they thought the country needed new voices in politics, while a similar amount said they supported a constitutional amendment to get money out of politics.
Focusing his messaging on these issues and avoiding others – like the legalization of marijuana and the PennEast Pipeline, both of which were supported by roughly 50% of respondents – could help Jois’s message better resonate with voters.
Despite its faults, the polling could prove a deft move for Jois, whose campaign lags significantly behind that of Democratic frontrunner Tom Malinowski in terms of funding. Traditional opinion polling is expensive, with a single poll often costing tens of thousands of dollars.
Jois’s primary opponents, Malinowski, a former assistant U.S. Secretary of State, and social worker Peter Jacob were seldom mentioned during the call.
The only mention of either came when Jois responded to a question about military intervention in countries like Syria and Ukraine, when Jois referenced Malinowski’s support of President Donald Trump’s recent strikes in Syria without naming the candidate.
“On Syria I’m willing to give Trump the support many GOP reps, including @RepLanceNJ7, refused President Obama when he asked for it in 2013,” Malinowski tweeted earlier this month. “On Syria I’m willing to give Trump the support many GOP reps, including @RepLanceNJ7, refused President Obama when he asked for it in 2013.”
Jois said the country should go back to limiting the president’s ability to take military actions without consulting Congress, saying that previous administrations not asking the legislative branch for permissions was also a problem.
“Frankly, ‘everybody does it’ isn’t a good enough excuse,” Jois said.