Mayoral race going digital
There’s a segment of the race for mayor-president of East Baton Rouge Parish that can be seen only from computer screens and smart phones.
Mayor-President Kip Holden, Councilman Mike Walker, businessman Gordon Mese and lawyer Steve Myers are leaning on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to connect to voters and explain their messages without a news media filter.
At the same time, they’re showing aspects of their personalities and cultivating their fan base.
If Facebook “likes” equated to votes, then Walker would have the lead in this race.
Walker has amassed more than 3,100 likes. Holden has about 2,700. Mese has about 520, and Myers, who had the latest start in the race, has only about 50.
Both Walker and Holden have very controlled content, spanning from press announcements, news articles and photos of themselves at various community events.
But underdogs Mese and Myers are bit more unfiltered.
For example, on Oct. 3, Myers announced he was attending a forum that night “sponsored by the pitchfork crowd,” referring to the Southside Civic Association.
Both Myers and Mese said they are relying on the Internet to help propel their campaigns.
Myers’ Facebook page “Myers for Mayor” and his Twitter “@TheMyersMessage” mostly redirect viewers to his own website, themyersmessage.com, which provides his take on a different issue every day.
You can click on an issue and view a YouTube video of Myers sitting in an easy chair, explaining his position on issues such as transportation, property rights or education — 40 issues over 40 days.
The site also allows viewers to listen to his very own campaign fight song, which begins “Fight for right, Steve Myers, fight for right. You will win, Steve Myers, because you fight for right.”
Mese’s Facebook page displays photos of him with various supporters, often wearing his signature green T-shirt sporting the words “Mese Mayor Relax.”
Mese, who isn’t taking campaign donations, also posts photos of his supporters’ homemade signs in their yards.
But Mese also shows his feisty side on his page.
When he wasn’t invited to a mayoral forum in September because he hadn’t raised a minimum of $20,000, Mese wrote on his page, “I guess MONEY talks…AND GREAT IDEAS DON’T MATTER!!!!!!!!!!”
In May, Mese posted a photo of himself and Holden at the Greek Festival, both smiling. “No Anger, No Hate, No Fear, in either man. It is what it is,” Mese wrote.
On the Twitter front, Walker is also dominating. Walker and his campaign team tweet from his handle “@MovingBRForward” multiple times a day. He’s sent more than 3,000 tweets to his more than 700 followers, giving frequent updates about his whereabouts on the campaign trail.
“If you’re on campus stop by & say hi. We’re tailgating in the old Alex Box lot, spot 2. Plenty of food & drinks! #GeauTigers #LSU #LSURoar.”
Holden’s Twitter feed “@MayorKipHolden” is much less active, with only about 70 tweets since July to about 60 followers.
Myers set up his Twitter account Sept. 16 and has drawn only about 30 followers so far.
Mese does not have a Twitter feed.
The four candidates will face off in the Nov. 6 primary. Early voting is Oct. 23-30.
Rebekah Allen covers city-parish government for The Advocate. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @rebekahallen.