Facebook role in politics grows

Facebook role in politics grows

November 19th, 2011 by Chris Carroll in News

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn.

Photo by Alex Washburn/Times Free Press.

HOW MANY FRIENDS DO THEY HAVE?


• U.S. Rep Chuck Fleischmann -- 1,634*

• Weston Wamp -- 641

• Jean Howard-Hill -- 111

• Fleischmann has a separate campaign page left over from the 2010 campaign with 2,394 friends.

Source: Facebook

U.S. Rep Chuck Fleischmann is taking town hall-type meetings to Facebook, where power comes with "friends" and "likes."

In a news release last week, a spokesman for Fleischmann announced the Republican's "first Facebook town hall" in which 3rd Congressional District residents can leave questions on Fleischmann's page.

The congressman is expected to film a video later this week, answering "a random sampling" of questions, said Fleischmann spokesman Jordan Powell.

"I doubt Chuck will be able to get to all the questions, but he'll do some more of these," Powell said. "This is another avenue for him to reach whoever might pose a question, young or old."

Fleischmann is not the only one asking for Internet eyeballs. On his campaign page, GOP challenger Weston Wamp recently implored supporters to get him over the 600-friend hump on Facebook, a benchmark he met in late October.

The 24-year-old son of former U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp is less than three years removed from Facebook's main sphere of influence -- college.

"It will be a get-out-the-vote tool," Wamp said Friday. "We'll be able to leverage social media to get some young people out to the polls."

Wamp encouraged voters to communicate with him on Facebook and Twitter and, if he's around his phone or computer, to expect a response from him "in real time."

In Fleischmann's case, it's part of Powell's job to post the congressman's proposals and policy statements on the Facebook page, along with thank-yous to veterans on Veterans Day, for example.

"Chuck lets me know what he's doing or what he's thinking and asks me to post it," Powell said.

But the congressman regularly checks the page to see what his 1,634 friends are saying, Powell said.

Another Republican challenger, political science professor Jean Howard-Hill, uses Facebook as a place to post media mentions and religious messages to her 111 friends. A sample: "DO NOT post anything on my wall which says, 'omg' [which stands for 'Oh My God']. It offends me because it disrespects the Deity of the GOD I worship and serve. Do whatever you want on your wall, but as for my wall, I will not allow it!"

Howard-Hill did not respond to a request for comment.

Zach Wamp also entered the 3rd District social media fray. On Oct. 2, the day Weston Wamp's announcement hit the news cycle, his father updated a personal page that served as his Facebook campaign hub when he ran for governor last year.

"I know [Weston] is my son and I am not totally objective but I also know what it takes to run strong and serve well in Congress," the elder Wamp wrote. "My prayer is that he will stay true to his foundation and my hope is that people will simply hear him out ... give him a chance."

About 200 of Zach Wamp's 22,748 friends "liked" the statement.