Say what you will about Twitter, but politicians have come to consider it a convenient way to reach the masses. That, or they think it’s a funky new gizmo that they’d better buy into, lest they be dismissed as out of touch.
Take Newark Mayor Cory Booker, the latest Twitter darling, who continues to build a following — 140 characters (or fewer) at a time. Move over, Ashton Kutcher. Here comes da mayor.
Booker has tweeted more than two dozen times in a single day. And while some may say that’s a dramatic waste of taxpayer dollars, it’s also a quick and handy means of communicating directly with constitutents, rather than relying on traditional media to produce whatever serves it particular purposes.
In the past two weeks, Booker’s followers have increased from just under 4,000 to May 9 to more than 65,000 last night, NJ.com, the website of the Newark Star-Ledger, reports.
That makes him more popular, Twitter-wise, than the likes of David Letterman, Tyra Banks, Stephen Colbert and Republican strategist Karl Rove, the report says — as Arianna sighs.
Many say Booker has a future in national politics. Whether the mayor can challenge Kutcher — of “That ’70s Show” and “Punk’d” fame — is another matter entirely.
Kutcher, who became the first Twitter user to attract 1 million followers and is about to double that, gave Booker the down-low on Tweeting, a task the mayor had delegated to a staffer.
Now, Booker’s hooked.
The mayor says he hopes, like Kutcher, to bring attention to worldwide problems that could be fixed through citizen intervention. He pointed specifically to some of Newark’s services, and has opined on everything from immigration rights to same-sex marriage.
“So frustrating 2 hear, ‘this is how we’ve always done it,’ I support free speech but I’m seriously considering banning those words from City Hall,” he tweeted recently about New Jersey’s largest city.
Interestingly, Booker — who is not openly aspiring to higher office — is now at the top of the Twitter list in New Jersey.
Nationwide, President Obama boasts more than 1.2 million followers. U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez is miles behind, at 1,600 subscribers.
Chris Christie, a Republican gubenatorial candiate, has pushed his numbers past 1,300 with frequent updates. His GOP primary challenger, Steve Lonegan, relies more on Facebook, but he broke 1,000 in the number of followers this week.
As for Gov. Corzine, he’s apparently decided to sit this one out, with slightly more than 200 followers who could include dozens of spammers asked to wait, watching basketball or the Mets in Boston.
Whether it makes a difference in the end, we’ll see.
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