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Senate Candidate Bongino Hopes Facebook Will Bring Victory

The GOP candidate for U.S. Senate thinks his active social media presence will help close the gap against incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin this fall.

Republican Dan Bongino hopes a strong social media presence will help him overcome the fundraising deficit he has against incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), and ultimately catapult him to victory this November.

"We knew from the beginning in our campaign that we would be fighting literally a machine," Bongino said. "A machine with money, access and a long history in Maryland."

Real Clear Politics and Roll Call both mark Maryland's Senate race in their safely Democratic columns, and the state hasn't sent a Republican senator to Washington in 25 years.

Cardin has raised more than $5 million to fund his re-election bid for the U.S. Senate in 2012. Bongino has raised just over $260,000, according to Open Secrets. That means the Severna Park Republican's campaign is operating on about 0.05 percent of budget Cardin has at his disposal.

"There are very few people in our campaign that are paid at all; maybe three or four," Bongino said.

The former Secret Service agent said his business background got him thinking about what he could add to his campaign that would distinguish him from Cardin. 

"I noticed that [Cardin's] website was not really user friendly, so I decided that technology and social media was a way to differentiate ourselves and level the playing field," he said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, Bongino he had 3,010 Facebook fans compared with Cardin's 3,760. On Twitter, where Bongino tweets significantly more than his Democratic counterpart, he boasts 2,435 followers to Cardin's 10,274.

The Republican also offers supporters a free iPhone app that Bongino said contains up-to-the-minute information about his fundraisers, events and photos from the campaign trail that don't make it on the website.

Bongino said approximately 200 people have downloaded the app, which was created free of charge for the campaign by a supporter.

He added that his campaign has received several technology donations that range from website help to advice on navigating Facebook.

Bongino also tweets and posts on Facebook himself in an effort to separate himself from the Cardin campaign.

"I had a social media person. I got rid of the person because I felt that the campaign was losing authenticity," Bongino said. "Unlike my opponent, you’re talking to the candidate, and you’re getting my unfiltered thoughts, not consultant screened material."

He said the only things he doesn't tweet are messages about campaign events and the occasional link to basic information about his position about an issue.

He said his social media push has brought people out in person. 

"A guy from Anne Arundel County read my tweets about health care solutions, and came out to a sign waving we did," Bongino said.

And at the July Fourth parade in Annapolis, the Bongino campaign turned out about twice as many volunteers to march in the 90-degree weather. He attributes that success to his increasing social media presence.

Whether enough of Bongino's social media fans come out to vote for him this November remains to be seen.

David Zwald July 12, 2012 at 11:37 AM
Dan's Facebook #'s represent truly interested, involved, and concerned citizens. He has had a short time to build his presence to the people of Maryland while Ben Cardin has been building his presence with union connections and the elite for years and years. Ben may have more money, but where the heck is he? What does he do? He does nothing in a do-nothing Senate. God forbid if you ever see Ben Cardin stand up and tell the electorate that he is standing up for them.
kevin July 13, 2012 at 05:11 PM
Gosh ,How great would it be to finally have a senator whose name I'm not even sure how to pronounce? I'm serious here is a man with credentials and NO connection to any Maryland machines or even party machine , wouldn't it be nice to have a fresh start Maryland ? I don't know this man but I know he has put his life on the line for my country and it's principles. I know he didn't get your son a scholarship or a job or get you free tickets to any bull roast but do we really need SIX more years of that ? Good Luck !
Jim Davis July 13, 2012 at 05:35 PM
Facebook is fine, but unless he gets in the news constantly and does aggressive campaigning he will not gain the public exposure that will overcome the Cardin/Maryland Democratic Party. I fully agree that Cardin is in place because of the "Party" with little, if any connection to the electorate BUTT he has name recognition and a massive organization with money behind him. http://www.opensecrets.org/races/summary.php?id=MDS1&cycle=2012
Brutus Henry July 13, 2012 at 06:16 PM
What we need is not tweets and a social media presence. We need a person of character and courage who knows and understands the parameters of our Constitutional Republic - the Constitution. A man who swears his oath to that document with the understanding that the oath is to the God of the Bible and that the penalty for breaking this oath is in Eternity, If we keep electing the lesser of two evils - why are we surprised when we get evil. Check out the Andy Harris voting record, that RINO has been a disappointment. Once we elect these people, our work is not done - we as Citizens are duty-bound to hold them accountable. WE LIVE in a REPUBLIC and not a democracy - the Supreme Law of the land is the Constitution and this guy thinks it is the opinions of those black-robed lawyers in the Supreme Court. Unless this guy has the courage to INTERPOSE himself between us and the Federal government and NULLIFY these unconstitutional "laws" - then the reform candidate you think he is will be indistinguishable from the current "reign" of Lord Ben Cardin.

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