Tens of thousands of Saratoga County residents got a call Wednesday evening from James Tedisco.
Unlike recorded “robo-calls” that voters are used to getting during election season, callers could listen to the real, live assemblyman during this call after a brief recorded message.
The conference call with Tedisco was made possible by Tele Town Hall, a technology developed in 2005 that is used increasingly in political campaigns and by elected officials.
It allowed the Tedisco camp to call about 30,000 county residents simultaneously and even take questions from voters if they responded to a prompt.
Saratoga County Clerk Kathy Marchione, who has been heavily involved in Tedisco’s campaign for Congress, moderated the conference call. Tedisco could see the name and location of every person asking a question.
Tedisco spokesman Joshua Fitzpatrick said Wednesday that this was the first time the Assembly minority leader has used the Tele Town Hall technology, and he expects to employ it in conference calls throughout the district in the coming weeks. The Tedisco campaign is footing the bill for the conference call, Fitzpatrick said. He said he did not know how much it cost the campaign.
“He really enjoys the interaction,” Fitzpatrick said of Tedisco. “He says being a good communicator is not just about talking.”
Tele Town Hall, developed by Washington entrepreneur Rodney A. Smith, allows users to reach large audiences, especially people who might not show up at a meeting.
“We know people are busy, and I think it’s going to be something really interesting,” Fitzpatrick said.
“It’s sort of in between the mass TV campaign to voters and going door-to-door,” said Bob Turner, Skidmore College political science professor.
“Congressional campaigns are always looking for new and creative ways to get their message out and have voters identify with their candidates,” Turner said. “The saying in the campaign business is, ‘Half of all money is wasted, and we don’t know which half.’ ”
But Turner says the Tele Town Hall meetings might be part of the wasted half.
He questioned whether campaign funds and a candidate’s valuable time could be used for something better.
Will people stay on the line to hear Tedisco speak live, or will they simply hang up when they hear his recorded voice?
“Those robo-calls, all the research I’ve seen is they don’t work at all,” he said.
Tedisco and Democrat Scott Murphy are both getting out as much as they can to meet voters.
Tedisco ran his “Road to Recovery” tour through the district on Wednesday, traveling to Delaware and Otsego counties.
Murphy met with the Greater Capital Region Building and Construction Trades Council and Mechanicville Mayor Anthony Sylvester on Wednesday and got endorsements from both.