Website Facades

After reading Northern Crown‘s experience trying to contact Republican candidates via their websites, I don’t know if the internet is wildly overrated as a campaign tool or if some candidates are so totally clueless they should be dismissed out of hand.

Commonwealth Conservative gets it: “As a candidate, when voters come to you, you need to cultivate that relationship.”


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  1. Anonymous Avatar

    The Chap Petersen campaign is doing some damage control on the recent revelation that his campaign manager was a key figure in the Wisconsin tire slashing scandal. The campaign released the following BS statement:

    “Opel Simmons has not been charged with or convicted of anything. In fact, he is assisting the prosecution in their quest to bring the perpetrators to justice regarding the matter in question. We are saddened that there are people who want to talk about rumors and half-truths instead of what is best for Virginia.

    Chap Petersen is an honorable, truthful man. He would not have put his faith in Mr. Simmons if he did not think Opel was capable, qualified and had the best interests of Virginia at heart.

    Rather than focusing on negatives that are not based in truth, our campaign would much rather focus on what is really important to people in Virginia, i.e. the Virginia we all want; a Virginia that creates and fosters opportunities for all.”

    Lets analyze this bit of PR spin:

    Chap’s campaign manager was initially arrested and put in jail in connection with this incident. He was the direct supervisor of the individuals that traveled to a GOP office and destroyed property. He knew of their intention to vandalize the opposition property before they departed. He even provided them with a VEHICLE! Opel Simmons was criminally negligent and obviously mismanaged the Kerry operation in Wisconsin.

    This guy is not just negligent, he’s a snitch. His testimony will put the son of Democratic congressman and mayor in jail. These individuals were acting on behalf of the Kerry campaign, in a vehicle rented by a manager in the Kerry campaign, with the blessing of a manager of the Kerry campaign to destroy opposition property. He exercised his authority to allow the activity to occur, but he takes no responsibility for the tire slashing. He only tells on everyone else involved. Yah Petersen hired a real class act.

    Chap is clearly concerned about opportunity for all Virginians. If his campaign strategy mirrors that of the Kerry Wisconsin operation then tire repairmen everywhere will have plenty of opportunity.

    My advice to Chap’s opponents: PARK YOUR CAR IN A GARAGE BEFORE THE PRIMARY!!!

  2. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Will: I saw the post you refer to and I too was shaking my head. I think that some of the smaller campaigns are well intended, but get overwhelmed. I also passed the word to one of the campaigns mentioned in that post.

    Then there is the miscommunication factor and I know this from first hand experience. I was working for a Delegate campaign a few years ago. I had designed and built the website for the campaign. I set up two eForms, one for volunteers to sign up and another for folks to sign up to receive the campaign newsletters and other announcements. Along with setting up the website, I set up email accounts for key persons on the campaign. The server was configured so that copies of the eForms were automatically sent by email to the Campaign Manager’s account.

    As I was working on a number of different campaigns that year, I didn’t micromanage this particular website as the candidate, the campaign manager, and several of the key persons in the campaign were old-time veterans. To my horror as the campaign was coming to an end, I discovered that the campaign manager had never bothered to check his email account and had continued using a hotmail account throughout the campaign. I grabbed all the eForms from the server and sent them to the candidate, but this was just a few days before the election. This was a golden opportunity lost as there had been a number of people that had stopped by the website and signed up to volunteer.

    In other words, it’s not that the campaigns are not taking advantage of today’s electronic tools. It’s more of a case that in political campaigns a lot of things tend to fall through the cracks. This is no different than having a paper form for volunteers to sign up in person at some event and the campaign fails to contact them later—believe me, this also happens with a number of campaigns.

  3. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Anonymous: I hadn’t heard this story before. Was this covered in the Press before? Do you have any sources you can point us to?

  4. OK Anonymous, so Chap’s campaign manager Opel Simmons was loosely connected with a Wisconsin election incident where GOP tires were slashed. He was witness to a felon as a member of the Kerry campaign.

    Note: A PC course on advanced Internet searching techniques is a helpful tool for up and coming blogger. The VA Watchdog has been a good source for learning the ‘Net as well.

    Needless to say, it’s amazing what you can find Online with a good search engine, such as the State of Wisconsin, White Collar Crime, Circuit Court Criminal Division, Milwaukee County court papers:

    http://www.620wtmj.com/620programs/jeffwagner/012405TireSlashingComplaint.pdf

    The (Shenandoah) Valley Blue Dog noticed something else in the Wisconsin police blotter. Now get this noteworthy item … the other witness is a Mr. Levar Stoney.

    Blog this … If I’m correct in my thinking, Mr. Levar Stoney was the James Madison University’s student government council president in 2004.

    It’s hard to believe, there’s been nothing in the local press about it!!!

    There’s more about Chap Petersen’s hiring practices: Chap’s ’03 House campaign manager, Ben Tribbett, who was mounting a Democratic House of Delegate campaign for the Dillard seat has been involved in a controversy as well.

    http://www.connectionnewspapers.com/article.asp?article=46444&paper=61&cat=104

    Sources say, the Chap Petersen campaign is keeping the relationship with former manager, Ben Tribbett — at arm’s length. Apparently, there are questions about the campaign relationship with the two.

    Mr. Ben Tribbett withdrew from the House race last week after accusing Republican Delegate Jim Dillard of laundering $5000 (contributions) to his former legislative aide wife, Judy Marsden.

    Dillard’s legislative aide David Marsden is running as a DEMOCRAT. Whoa Nelly! Is that a huge surprise, or what? Now, Mr. “Hit & Run” Tribbett has vanished from the Democratic primary without a trace — unbelievable!

    What’s going on? Any thoughts?

    If the Chap wants to be Governor one day, he needs to interview these kids better.

    Side bar: I’ll try to send some thoughts on Internet campaigning later tonight. I’m keeping a record of interviews, emails and campaign fodder on all the statewide candidates.

  5. Phil Rodokanakis Avatar
    Phil Rodokanakis

    Blue Dog: Why are you surprised about Marsden running as a Democrat? Dillard was a Democrat masquerading as a Republican. Dillard even contributed to the John Kerry campaign (See:
    “The Taxpayers Nemesis”
    ). If I were one of those Republicans that were dumb enough to donate money to Dillard, I would be demanding a refund now that he’s turned over the funds to a Democrat.

    This isn’t the first time that this sort of thing has happened. Warren Berry, a former Republican State Senator, gave a big chunk of money to his son who ran as a Democrat and defeated the Republican Sheriff in Fairfax County. Berry was part of the cabal of Chichester’s Commissars. Thankfully, when Berry turned over Republican donations to his Democrat son that was the last straw; Ken Cuccinelli announced that he would campaign against Berry, even though this happened a whole year before Berry was up for re-election. Then Berry endorsed Warner in the 2001 election and subsequently got an appointment in the Warner Administration—which boosted his pension considerably—and Cuccinelli has been in the Senate ever since.

    If you want to get a kick about Chap Petersen, read Peter Ferrara’s column on good ole Chap
    (“Democrats Dogged By Increasingly Bizarre Scandals”)
    . It seems that Chap likes to use his campaign donations to give extravagant bashes at homosexual bars. And you thought that the shenanigans with the campaign managers were something to crow about?

  6. Phil, I’m not surprised. More like a sarcastic “what a surprise!”

    The NY club connection is truly bizarro for a candidate running as a conservative.

    Simply, amazing!

  7. Anonymous Avatar
    Anonymous

    That’s about what I expect happened on both campaigns I mentioned. No one, single person is responsible for the outreach or if they are they haven’t been given the correct prioritization on this important task. I think we’ll get to the point where outreach and communication via the internet is on par with the phone and the shoe-leather visit. I personally would prefer a detailed, maybe customized message to my email box over *any* phone call.

    I like to think that people running local and state campaigns are capable and responsive, but you’re right, there’s often just too much to do.

  8. Ben Tribbett Avatar
    Ben Tribbett

    Wow! What a cheap shot! A few things:

    1) Blue Dog, I worked for Chap in 2001 not 2003. That was the year Chap defeated the longtime incumbent in what was called “the biggest legislative victory for Democrats in 25 years”. We were outspent 4-1, and I don’t remember anyone being unhappy with my performance as campaign manager.

    In fact our 52% against the incumbent is about 30 points better than you did in your campaign against a Republican incumbent!

    2) As far as my campaign goes, as the article states, I had a family emergency and had to leave the area for some time. In fact I am writing this from fabulous Las Vegas, NV.

    3) As far as my relationship with Chap goes— who cares!?!? That’s a legitimate question when I was running, but it is pretty pointless now. For the record, I had not released a list of any endorsments by the time I had to drop out, so given that now that list would only inflame the party, I decline to talk about who was supporting me.

    I think very highly of Chap as a person, and I think very highly of his family. That having been said, I’m not the only former Chap staffer who is not working on this campaign. In fact, I don’t believe any of his paid staff from his two delegate campaigns are currently paid staff on this campaign. You can draw your own conclusion from that.

    Blue Dog, Given that you have my contact information, and emailed me during the campaign to offer your help, this post was truly pathetic on your part. I hope you will come out of your fantasy world of being a “reporter” and consider the consequences of irresponsible postings like this one!

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