As we rejoin the latest episode of Emo Senator, Southern Minnesota's most watched telenovela, we find our hero, State Senator Mike Parry, the Belle of Waseca County, touting his social media prowess to the receptive ears of a local journalist. But archrival Allen Quist shares harsh words about old-fashioned campaigning, while gathering more Facebook friends.
Today's Owatonna People's Press runs with a standard, "hey! politic candidates use social media!" story in Expect local candidates to tweet on their way to Blooming Prairie parade. Most telling, however, are Allen Quist's sharp-elbowed thrusts at Republican primary rival Mike Parry.
Stories about social media in campaigning are a bit dog-bites-manish in 2012, though back in 2006, the use of Facebook by one of the students kicked out of a Bush rally to build support for his teacher was indeed news. By the time a local television station reported on what was then a novelty in July 2006, Nick Burthart had rallied over 500 people to "fan" Tim Walz for Congress.
Still, the OPP story has a bit of a "gee whiz" quality in the lead:
This campaign season, local candidates increasingly find themselves searching for votes both online and on the streets.
Along with constantly updating campaign websites with current information, local candidates are also reaching out to voters on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter.
OPP staff writer Derek Sullivan's article sets up an implicit contrast between the Parry and Quist campaign, with Parry touting the use of social media, while Quist favors "old-fashioned town hall meetings:
First District Congressional candidate Mike Parry, R-Waseca, is currently in a primary fight with former state representative Allen Quist, R-St. Peter. Like other area politicians, Parry is mixing traditional campaign events, such as parades and door knocking, with Facebook and Twitter posts.
“(Social media) is kind of nice,” Parry said. “It’s so mobile. I’m always traveling with other people, so while they drive, I can still communicate.” . . .
. . .Quist, along with door knocking, answers questions at old-fashioned town hall meetings.
It's unfortunate that Sullivan didn't dig a bit deeper into the social media ecology, for he might have discovered that while Mike Parry for Congress has 228 Facebook follows, the "old-fashioned" candidate, Allen Quist, has 717 Facebook "likes."
Mike Parry's twitter account has 1016 followers, with a Klout score of 37. Quist has only 325 followers; his Klout score is 27. Neither candidate is spectacular as far as social media goes, though the Parry twitter numbers probably have helped him gain the attention of the Twin Cities press corps members who consider twitter chatter a prime source of information about Greater Minnesota.
In terms of raw numbers, Quist is ahead of where Walz was at this point six years ago. However, the Facebook universe was much smaller in July 2006, since the service was limited to people with college and high school email addresses (and a few tech companies like Microsoft and Apple) until September 26, 2006.
Perhaps Parry should invest in the Facebook suite touted by Kurt Bills' vendor, Polidemic, to engage in a viable FB campaign. The self-proclaimed social media maven doesn't seem to be making the grade, despite his reputation with the press as a twit to follow.
As Bluestem writes this, Parry's last tweet was a picture of a yardsign on Highway 14 (hint: yard signs don't vote). Quist's tweeting appears to be targeted toward communicating statements and sharing statuses.
Parry gained a high profile by making abrasive statements about Obama, Dayton, and the gardener at the governor's residence, but it doesn't seem to have transfered into his primary battle with Quist. Instead, Quist is drawing the attention with statements about DFLers and blunt talk about Parry.
Is this difference being noticed among the Republican base in CD1? Bluestem's sources say yes.
And then there's that "old-fashioned" part: Quist's Town Halls. The Norseland farmer tells Derek Sullivan:
Quist, along with door knocking, answers questions at old-fashioned town hall meetings.
“I’m the only one doing town halls,” Quist said. “Walz is afraid to do them, and Parry is unable to do them. Frankly, it’s a major part of the democratic process to make yourself available at town halls.”
Quist said he believes Parry refuses to hold town hall meetings because he has little knowledge on public policy.
If it seems as if Quist and Parry are running for office with a lot of vigor in the past few weeks, it’s because they not only have their eyes on November, they are also looking at Aug. 14.
Bluestem doubts that Walz fears Town Halls, and as a sitting congressman, he tends to focus his official town halls and listening sessions (which are paid out of congressional office expenses, not campaign funds) on business pending before congress such as farm and vets policy--just as he conducted town halls on health care when the ACA was being drafted. Walz serves on the House agriculture, transportation and veterans affairs committees.
Parry too conducted town halls as part of his senate duties. However, since Parry seems reluctant to debate Quist, there might be some substance to Quist's accusations about Parry and policy. Bluestem looks forward to Farmfest, when all three are in a forum together for the first time.
Screenshots: Mike Parry for Congress Facebook "Like" numbers (above); his latest tweet (below).