A politician’s zest for popularity cannot be confined merely to the voting booth. Witness Dennis Kucinich’s career-long courtship of the alien demographic.
Now a new popularity contest among Democratic House members has taken up the task of getting “people involved with government,” though the untrained eye might mistake it for another shameless publicity grab. It all started when Democrats noticed last month that Republicans are scoring big with the online crowd these days.
So the 283 Democratic offices competed to see which U.S. rep could accumulate the highest number of Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube followers before midnight on June 28. When the polls closed, Cleveland’s own Marcia Fudge sat in fourth place behind California’s Nancy Pelosi, who boasts the modest advantages of being house speaker and hailing from the largest state in the union.
Also ahead of Fudge was Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado, who happens to be a gazillionaire internet entrepreneur who might be expected to wield a degree of savvy with these things.
Fudge, meanwhile, took fourth in a race in which she held no obvious advantage.
“I viewed the competition as a way to reach more constituents — especially younger residents who spend much of their time on the internet,” she says. “It’s fun, but frankly, I had no idea at the outset how well we would do. This shows that people of all ages in Northeast Ohio are engaged in what Congress is doing.”
Either that, or Cleveland’s 57 percent unemployment rate leaves folks with extra time on their hands. Kucinich also fared well — finishing eighth overall, thanks largely to a last-minute push from the Martian lobby.