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Candidates Get Social As Campaign Slogs On

Plus: Santorum surges, while Martin and Koster make news for different reasons.

Campaigns these days can no longer just rely on advertisements and direct mail to deliver a message. They also need to have a quick-fire presence on the Web.

That aforementioned statement is not necessarily revolutionary. Campaigns have utilized the Web as both a messaging tool and an opposition research mechanism for more than a decade.

But with more and more people getting information about politics and politicians through the Web, the demand is high for manpower to update Twitter pages, fill Facebook pages, manage e-mail lists and organize YouTube videos.

For instance, Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) announced – via, of course, Twitter – that Blue State Digital’s Alex Kellner would be joining her re-election campaign as a digital director. The Missouri Democrat joked that in hiring the Boston native, she’ll have to “overlook that Red Sox/Patriot thing.”

McCaskill is gearing up for a tough November race,
Incumbents aren’t the only candidates getting into the act. Tech President noted that Frontenac businessman John Brunner had hired a company that worked for former Utah Gov. John Huntsman presidential campaign to oversee digital strategies. And Rep. Todd Akin (R-Wildwood) also has an aide that focuses on social media.

And of couse, social media isn’t just being used for local campaigns. The St. Louis branch of Rep. Ron Paul’s presidential campaign has utilized its Facebook page to organize supporters before the start of the March 17 caucuses. 

The Texas congressman - who had a high-mark of sorts this week when he came in second place in the Minnesota caucuses - has been tapping into web support for the last few years. Back in 2007, Paul's name was one of the most searched terms in the United States.

Even people who aren't on the ballot this year are getting into the act: Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) announced Wednesday that he’ll answer questions from Twitter followers in a web video. As noted before, Blunt has commonly used new media apparatuses – such as YouTube – to articulate his messages.

ADS EVERYWHERE

The Missouri General Assembly's session is in full swing, and that means some intriguing ideas are coming into focus.

One example: Rep. Mike Kelley (R-Lamar) sponsored legislation that would allow the State Board of Education to draw up a policy that would allow for school bus advertisements. According to a bill summary, "school districts will retain the advertising revenue after payment is made to private bus owners."

It says that "50 percent of a district's revenue from the advertising must be used to offset the fuel costs of providing pupil transportation services and 50 percent can be used at the board's discretion."

The bill recently received a committee hearing and has drawn some support from local lawmakers. Co-sponsors include Rep. John Diehl (R-Town and Country), Rep. Kurt Buhr (R-St. Charles), House Majority Leader Tim Jones (R-Eureka) and Rep. Don Gosen (R-Chesterfield).

For those who are wondering, the bill places restrictions on ads that contain content promoting "political campaigns or causes, public advocacy or lobbying regarding any matters before the legislature or any state agency or governing authority of any local, state or federal political division."

SANTORUM FALLOUT

Four years ago, Missouri’s primary map was colorful. That’s because the state’s counties were split between Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona), former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

This year though, history did not repeat itself. Former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pennsylvania) won every single county in the Show Me State’s
non-binding primary. For instance, in St. Louis County, Santorum received 53.5 percent of the vote. And the former lawmaker received 56.7 percent in Jefferson County and 56.3 percent in St. Charles County.

By contrast, Romney actually won St. Charles County and came within 3 percentage points of winning Jefferson County in 2008.

It should be noted though that Romney didn’t spend any time or money trying to win Tuesday’s contest. As alluded to before, the real fight will be in March when Republicans decide where to allocate delegates.

But while he pointed out that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich wasn’t on the ballot, political consultant James Harris – who previously worked for Texas Gov. Rick Perry – noted that Santorum carried the state by 25 percent even though Romney had plenty of endorsements.

Someone in Team @MittRomney should be fired by 7AM tomorrow
morning
,” Harris tweeted. “People called the #MOPrimary a 'beauty contest,' but 224,000 people voted. @MittRomney lost by 30%. He wasn't served well by his team.”

And click here to see famed political prognosticator Larry Sabato’s take on Santorum’s big day on Tuesday.

MARTIN ON THE MOVE, WHILE KOSTER GETS THE CUFFS

Ed Martin, the St. Louis attorney who recently announced a bid for attorney general, has been busy.

In addition to criticizing President Barack Obama’s decision to make all health plans cover federally approved contraceptives, he e-mailed supporters this week about gathering at Lincoln Days in Kansas City. That event, which brings together Republicans from all over the state, takes place this year, Feb. 17-Feb. 20.

But perhaps the biggest event of Martin’s week was more personal in nature. Martin’s wife Carol gave birth Tuesday to a baby girl named Helen. It’s the St. Louis Hills resident’s fourth child.

Martin, of course, was running for the 2nd Congressional District until deciding to challenge Democratic Attorney General Chris Koster. The two candidates left in that contest are former Missouri Republican Party Chairwoman Ann Wagner and former .

Meanwhile, Koster recently made national headlines this week for his role in combating so-called "robo-signing" of foreclosure documents. Through a press release, Koster’s office announced that a Boone County grand jury handed down 136-count indictments against DOCX, LLC and its founder and former president, Lorraine Brown, for forgery and making a false declaration.

60 Minutes did an extensive report on the practice of robo-signing this past August.

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