Thursday, August 19, 2010



By Michael Horne

Milwaukee County Supervisor Chris Larson has raised $13,793 from 179 donors on the ActBlue website, while incumbent 7th District Senator Jeff Plale has only raised $830 from 6 donors on the same site, which describes itself as "the online clearinghouse for Democratic action."

Larson's 179 donors is more than recorded by any other Wisconsin Senate candidate, and his $13,793 is the second-greatest amount raised by any of those candidates.

Website fundraising has been around for a couple of elections, but Larson's ascendancy shows a divide between old and new politics. Starting the race with a great disparity in fundraising, Larson has shown a knack for embracing new technologies that seem to have eluded his opponent.

Larson offers several online fundraising options on his website, which itself is further energized with links to his Facebook and other social networking sites. Plale's site also includes ActBlue and Facebook buttons, but, while Larson's site is brimming with stories, Plale's "Newsroom" page is "under construction" with less than a month to go until the primary. That's a red flag for the internet generation.

Plale's July 2010 continuing campaign finance report [GAB2] showed him with $33,187 cash on hand, while Larson had a balance of $19,302. That would have spelled disaster not too many election cycles ago. At the very least the disparity would have forced the candidate to spend even more time shaking the money tree than he would spend knocking on doors, where he belongs.

Larson can afford to knock on doors this campaign, since it is clear that a few well-written and well-timed e-mail messages and Facebook posts can raise considerable funds, such as would have been unimaginable just a few election cycles ago.

It can not be determined at this time with the information available how much (if any) of Larson's online contributions were included in the July report, or how much either candidate has raised since then from more conventional means, but it is clear that a substantial money gap can be bridged by an active campaigner with an energetic presence both on the streets -- and in cyberspace.

Plale has a greater number of powerhouse union endorsements in this race, while Larson has been successful in corralling a few himself. The district is as bizarre as ever, stretching from South Milwaukee - Cudahy to the Upper East Side, hey.

Will the south side unionists vote in the Republican Primary, caught in the siren song of the Neumann-Walker campaign for governor -- and thus precluding a vote for anybody on the Democratic ticket, including the presumably favored Plale? Those south siders have been getting a little cantankerous lately, and they might feel like a little teabagging this September.

Will Larson be able to convince a great number of young and new voters to support his candidacy, especially in the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee portions of his district, and actually show up to vote? He'd be the first in history.

Larson's youth and social media adroitness will give him an advantage with that segment, it appears, at least vis a vis Plale, and if anybody bothers to vote.

Like all elections, it all depends on who turns out and whom they vote for.

There seems to be a chance that Politics-As-Usual will have to face the new realities of Social Media and its opportunities for public engagement -- and fundraising.

It is clear that Larson has the edge in the social media arena, and this election will be closely followed.

1 comment:

Connect To Charity said...

You can use online apps available on Facebook to help raise money by sharing with your friends, school/college, neighbor anyone you have relation with. Anyone can create online fundraising pages for their favorite nonprofit organization and use Facebook to promote and raise fund through