Hawaii Rep. Neil Abercrombie is hoping to move from Washington D.C. to Washington Place in Honolulu, today making official his long-anticipated run for governor.
True, it was the worst-kept secret in local politics (I blogged it as a sure-thing in November, and I was late then!), and every media outlet had the story yesterday (after Abercrombie apparently gave notice to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi). But notable in Rep. Abercrombie’s now-for-sure gubernatorial bid is that he affirmed it online, rather than via press conference or media advisory. Shortly after noon today, his campaign posted a video to YouTube, and posted the news on Twitter:
Aloha everybody! I want you to know I’m running for Governor of Hawaii in 2010. Let’s bring change to Washington Place!
The Associated Press was the first news outlet to seize on the news, and the Jaymes Song report, “Abercrombie ‘tweets’ way into race for Hawaii gov,” is already spreading like wildfire. Various political reporters and news agencies (and their fans) on Twitter are re-tweeting the news, from CNN in Atlanta to a CBS affiliate in Nebraska. I particularly like the take of Edward Adams, editor and publisher of the ABA Journal:
Hawaii Gov. candidate announces run on Twitter. And he’s 70.
A full announcement is posted on NeilAbercrombie.com, which has been redesigned but still includes a lot of the “widgets” and other social media tools his campaign has experimented with, from Flickr and Facebook to Ustream and Utterli.
I’ve worked with Rep. Abercrombie’s campaign behind the scenes, and know several local geeks have as well. He’s tried harder than most to find the best ways to use “Web 2.0″ to connect and interact with constituents. He’s no stranger to Hawaii residents on Twitter, for example, and even came out to the Hawaii Geek Meet last year. Not the usual hobnob venue for a congressman. True, now almost everyone in Congress is using Twitter. But Rep. Abercrombie is already using other web tools that most politicians have never heard of.
Is this stuff sustainable beyond the simple novelty? I think so. If you think transparency and accessibility is key to a representative democracy, this kind of technology is a perfect fit. And for Rep. Abercrombie — who can’t tap his “congressional war chest” and has to essentially start fundraising from scratch — the web is probably the most cost-effective way to be seen and heard.
My primary hope is that, through these various means, Rep. Abercrombie’s own voice — rather than the often measured and deliberate words of spokespeople or staffers — comes to the forefront. One of the best things about Rep. Abercrombie is his bluntness, his spontaneous wit and insight. True, unexpected honesty can create nightmares for politicians. But if there’s anyone who can mostly benefit from an unfiltered, public platform, it’s him.