Drake Buckman had his grassroots campaign planned out since last fall. The Sarasota Democrat may not be able to raise as much money as some Republicans running in House District 72, but he could out-schmooze and had a plan to shake 25,000 hands. That was before COVID-19 struck the region and guaranteed Buckman couldn’t get within arms reach of most voters. “I feel like we are exploring a whole new era of campaigning,” he says.The pandemic disrupted the standard plan of pressing flesh, but it also upended traditional fundraising as well. Republicans Fiona McFarland and Donna Barcomb, the leading contenders for GOP nomination in District 72, both canceled evening fundraising events as candidate forums and debates moved from banquet halls to webinars. The public health crisis has affected races at all levels. Vice President Mike Pence canceled a rally in Sarasota when infections in Florida began to surge in early July. Margaret Good, the Democrat challenging Congressman Vern Buchanan this year, listed Broadway stars like Sarah Silverman on the guest list for a fundraiser held online, with music and entertainment being provided with the intimacy of a YouTube channel. Sarasota City Commission candidates like Joe Barbetta and Don Patterson jumped into the race well into the pandemic and found themselves in debates held by the condo association, unable to meet with condo tenants. Joe Gruters, a state senator and chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, can’t say for certain how the disintegration of the traditional campaign plays out in November. He does figure incumbents in the region hold an edge both for the fact they raised some money before the spring and come in with name recognition already. “Raising funds is challenging enough for us, I can’t imagine what it’s like trying to build up resources in this environment,” he says. Challengers just hope voters feel more anxious than ever for change. That should become clear in November when results roll in, via a tiny video channel in the corner of a home video screen.