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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 Democratic U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin, 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."

Tell us in comments: Who will you be supporting, Bongino or Cardin?

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, Bonginio 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.

R David Johnson July 17, 2012 at 12:34 PM
The Affordable Health Care Act (Obamacare - now ObamaTAX) forcing Americans to pay a fine if they don't purchase health care is the definition of arrogance.
WeThePeople July 17, 2012 at 01:27 PM
The individual mandate was what the insurance lobby needed in order to pay for the millions added to the insurance role, including those with preeziating conditions.b It was also the same way RomneyCare was paid for, so let's not call it arrogant. Arrogant would be to sign a pledge to NEVER raise taxes no matter what before Day 1 in office. Actually, I take that back, it's not arrogant, it's reckless.
Adam R July 17, 2012 at 02:23 PM
The mandate was to have users pay a share of the health care system. Way too many free riders are paid by the rest of us. Health insurance is to be paid just like car insurance. The poor will pay a prorated amount that their family can afford. It is now a reality so let's move on to some other issues!
Julie Imirie July 17, 2012 at 05:10 PM
All of the entitlements that you just mentioned have to be paid for by someone - that will include you! Nothing is free, and the Affordable Care Act robs Medicare, raises taxes on the middle class, and the donut hole you refer to? My husband's medicare deduction has doubled to pay for the costs of those prescription drugs. You are wrong, and foolish to believe that anything about Obamacare is good.
David Maier July 17, 2012 at 07:05 PM
Brook: It is a culture in Washington that the politicians are above the law. Back when the House of Representatives had the Bounced check Scandal, Ben Cardin was one of the elected Representatives who was bouncing checks and making the people of the USA pick up his tab. When it came down to the vote on whether to release all the documents on the scandal to the public, Ben would not take a stand before the vote. I waited up until 3AM watching C-Span to find out what he was going to do,. He voted to withhold the information from the public. I had called his office before the vote to ask where he stood and they said they didn't know. I could not vote for someone who does not honor the position the are elected to hold. 45 years is too long in office - I vote Bongino

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