Santa Fean Jaime Dean decided the clumsy use of social networking by political candidates deserved some good-natured mockery and fired up a Twitter account for "Asinine Kepler" called Ass4Mayor.
Dean isn't exactly contributing to a heightened political discourse so far, but the Twitter battle that resulted from his actions–and other revelations discovered in perusing the new media efforts of Santa Fe area politicians–demonstrate that you can lead a politician to the internet, but you can't make him think.
A few notes on fits and starts related to the new media efforts of Santa Fe politicians:
Asenath Kepler's original online plea to encourage people sign up for her campaign mailing list contained the qualifier that, in doing so, one was also endorsing Kepler for mayor, and the campaign was free to publicize the information. One distraught observer said "It's just so...Republican."
The Kepler4Mayor website has since segregated mailing list sign-ups from endorsements. In either case, people are asked to check boxes regarding topics of interest to them: volunteering, environment, economic development, education, public safety and arts & culture. Strangely, people who choose to actually endorse Kepler have the added options of being interested in the film industry and affordable housing. Such concerns are apparently not available to those who cap their interest at the mailing list level.
Prior to the publication of Pein's article, mayoral candidate and sitting city councilor Miguel Chavez had a page on his website that read "Click below to select from your favorite social networking sites like Facebook, Myspace, Twitter and hundreds more." Yes, it really says HUNDREDS. The problem: The page was blank.
The day after publication of Pein's article, a basic share button appeared in several locations as well as a link to the Chavez campaign's Facebook fan page. At the time of this writing, Chavez has 68 fans. In a move that can only be described as darn cute, Chavez has created an event invitation on Facebook: Election Day; 7am; Tuesday; March 2. So far, the event has no confirmed guests, not even Chavez.
Incumbent Mayor David Coss is winning the Facebook war so far with far more friends and groupies than his opponents combined. Of course a fan page like Chavez has is viewable by people who have not joined Facebook, whereas a group page like Coss has is limited to registered participants. A fan page is also better for adding applications, search engine optimization, visitor statistics, related events and promotions. So we'll see how that plays out in the future.
Kepler's Facebook page, which is linked off of her campaign site, is visible only to people who have agreed to be her Facebook friend. If feels like a snub to follow the link and then be told Asenath don't know you--nunh unh--but then if mayor Coss and city councilor Matthew Ortiz can be social networking chums (they friended each other this week)...grudges can be forgotten on the internet.
Finally, Congressman Ben Ray Luján ran Facebook advertisements this autumn in order to solicit opinions on how he should vote for health care reform. The ads linked to a poll on Lujan's website. The problem: The poll was a leakier than a Diebold voting machine, with no basic protections to prevent repeated voting. I voted for a public option again and again until I got bored of doing so.
Santa Fe's hardcore campaign season is short and the mayoral race won't really heat up until the new year. That's probably when the Coss campaign will unveil its full media strategy. I know it has one because sometimes, late at night, the website is glitchy and it's possible to access a currently unpublished page with a full slate of new media connectivity.