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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Running for Legislator as a Geek

(Note: This item is cross-posted from the site of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee).
It’s not easy being a first-time candidate running against an incumbent. Especially if you are a Democrat campaigning in Kansas. To be successful, you need to have something going for you — even if that’s just the drive to outwork your opponent every day.
But it really does pay to be smart.
Sean Tevis is an information architect from Olathe, Kansas. He’s running against Rep. Arlen Siegfreid, a deeply conservative Republican (even by Sunflower State standards), and apparently, he’s got polling showing him running three points back.
He’s also a geek.
Faced with the challenge of raising the $26,000 it will take to make this stage of the race competitive, Tevis found a brilliant, clever way to tell his story and in doing so has captured the imagination of a certain part of the Internet.
Writing in the style of xkcd (a web comic read by the geekiest of geeks), Tevis laid out his reasons for running and asked for 3,000 people to contribute $8.34 to his campaign. And then the Internets responded.
His appeal was picked up by BoingBoing — an incredibly popular geek culture blog — and promoted thousands of times by news aggregators Digg and Reddit. All the traffic overwhelmed the servers hosting his website, but the donations kept pouring in.
By 9:30 on Monday morning, 5,298 people had given to his campaign. Previously (as Tevis notes in his comic), no state rep campaign in Kansas had ever attracted even 650 donors, and more remarkable still, Tevis lives in a district where just 6,327 people voted in the last election.
Obviously the specifics of Tevis’; story can’t necessarily be repeated (no way that every candidate will be able to finance her campaign with a clever comic strip), but there’s a whole lot to be said for his creativity.
This is the Internet — a place where leaders can connect with thousands of passionate potential supporters…if the campaign can find a way to stand out.

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