WATPA: FW: Kansan sticks it to election system

From: Norman Jacknis <norm@jacknis.com>
Date: Mon Jul 28 2008 - 22:56:02 EDT

I found this interesting. Not only is this candidate using a different
medium (the Internet), but it has allowed him to change the format and style
of the message as well (a cartoon).


Kansan sticks it to election system

 Sean Tevis <http://www.latimes.com/media/photo/2008-07/41273470.jpg>
Kami Brady
In less than two weeks, Sean Tevis has raised $95,162.76 in donations after
posting a comic strip online.
A simple online comic strip raises heaps for his Democratic bid.
By P.J. Huffstutter, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
July 28, 2008
OLATHE, KAN. -- When Sean Tevis decided to run for a seat in the Kansas
Legislature, he faced a serious problem: money. Local political advisors
warned the campaign novice that he would need a war chest of at least
$26,000 to compete against his entrenched Republican rival.

It seemed like a fortune to the 39-year-old Democrat. Everyone he knew here
was either on a fixed income, worried about losing a job or fretting that
the nation's stumbling economy could spread to this southwestern suburb of
Kansas City, Kan.

So Tevis created a droll online cartoon strip to appeal to potential
supporters wherever they might be, using stick figures to represent himself,
his GOP opponent and others.

In one panel, a stick-figure Tevis greets a constituent by rattling off a
stream of personal facts he's found online about her -- including her
birthdate, voting pattern, divorce, paycheck, credit card balances and
medical history -- to illustrate his interest in protecting individual

When she slams the door in his face, the cartoon Tevis muses, "Maybe I
should rethink my approach."

"I figured I'd raise a few thousand dollars, at most," for his bid to become
a state representative, said Tevis, a computer systems manager who works for
an industrial manufacturing company.

In fact, before he created the comic strip, Tevis spent weeks asking
cash-strapped friends and family for help and walking door-to-door in the
district. He raised $1,525.

The comic strip -- at <http://www.seantevis.com/3000>
www.seantevis.com/3000 -- was first posted online July 16. Today, when he
files his campaign finance forms with the Kansas secretary of state's
office, Tevis will report that he has raised $95,162.76 in donations through
PayPal, the online service that allows payments and money transfers via the

Sen. Barack Obama's presidential bid has transformed the way presidential
candidates use the Internet to reach volunteers and donors -- particularly
donors who give relatively small amounts. Now Tevis' success underscores how
such online grass-roots efforts are also revolutionizing down-ticket races.

"This shows how all political races could be done in the future: drawing
support across state lines and around a community of common interests,
instead of just where people vote," said Julie Barko Germany, director of
the Institute for Politics, Democracy & the Internet at George Washington
University's Graduate School of Political Management.

"But for something like this to work, you have to be the right
counter-political candidate -- a cool maverick," Barko Germany said. "And
Sean is that."

The strip is the antithesis of the typical campaign mailer.

It is peppered with online geek-speak, with references to "downmodding"
(voting down anything not considered worthwhile) and "forum troll" (someone
who intentionally riles up a Web-based social group or conversation) and
gives a nod to "Rickrolling" (an Internet bait-and-switch prank where people
are misdirected to a Rick Astley music video). It is drawn in a style
similar to xkcd, a popular Web-based comic.

And its message is barely concealed exasperation with his opponent's social
conservatism and a political process where the candidate with the most money
often wins.

"Relax," a bearded stick figure consoles the Tevis figure. "You just need 52
people who can donate $500."

Tevis' character replies, "I know two."

The solution, Tevis says, is simple: If 3,000 people donated $8.34 each,
he'd reach his goal.

Those who gave $60 would get a handwritten thank-you note. Donors who gave
$500, the legal limit, would get a DVD of Tevis' mom thanking them.

It was a long shot at best.

Seasoned Democrats in Olathe (population about 115,000), located about 20
miles southwest of Kansas City, Kan., advised Tevis to drop his online
efforts and stick with asking local residents and state political action
groups for financial help. The average state representative race rarely
pulls in donations from more than a couple hundred people or PACs, according
to the Kansas Governmental Ethics Commission.
"These state seats are not big-money races being run by professional
politicians with dreams of higher office. These are citizen legislators who
are trying to get to Topeka because they are trying to make a change in
their community," said Joseph Aistrup, head of the political science
department at Kansas State University in Manhattan, Kan.

"Besides, the idea of anyone outside of Kansas being interested enough in a
state legislative race here to give money is unfathomable," Aistrup said.

Tevis initially shared the strip with a group of friends and asked them to
share it with their friends if they thought it was funny and believed in his
bid for office. The comic quickly spread to social networking websites --
and the donations poured in.

In less than 24 hours, Tevis said, he reached his goal. More than half of
the funds were donations of $8.34 or less.

His opponent, Arlen Siegfreid, a 61-year-old grandfather and semi-retired
real estate agent, said he had raised about $12,000 the old-fashioned way --
offline. He's proud of his approach.

"This is a race you win by getting out and walking, not sitting in front of
a computer," said Siegfreid, a three-term incumbent whose website offers
information on how people can physically mail a check for his reelection

Indeed, the strategy could backfire on Tevis, particularly if voters are put
off by the idea of outsiders paying for a candidate's campaign, said Martin
Hawver, a longtime Kansas politics-watcher who publishes Hawver's Capitol

"Arlen is fairly popular and a pretty conservative old-boy who represents a
pretty conservative district," Hawver said. "All those people supporting
Sean won't be able to vote for him. He could e-mail his heart out and still
get stomped."

Still, Tevis' fundraising success had Siegfreid nervous enough to print out
a copy of the comic strip and show it to a group of fellow state GOP

"I told them, 'If he's successful and wins in November, this is what you're
going to see from every Democrat in Kansas -- and everywhere -- in two
years,' " Siegfreid said.

As of Saturday, 5,703 people had made online donations to Tevis' campaign.
The majority live outside of the state. Fans from other countries even sent
more than $1,700 -- which Tevis refunded, in compliance with federal
election rules.
 <mailto:p.j.huffstutter@latimes.com> p.j.huffstutter@latimes.com
 <http://seantevis.com/> Sean Tevis for State Representative

Running for Office: It's Like A Flamewar with a Forum Troll, but with an
Eventual Winner

 <http://www.addthis.com/bookmark.php> Share this with others
My name is Sean Tevis [photo]
<http://tevis.s3.amazonaws.com/images/uploads/sean-desk-576.jpg> . I'm an
Information Architect in Kansas running for State Representative. I've
decided to "retire" my
<http://www.kslegislature.org/legsrv-house/searchHouse.do?rep=4238> current
State Representative. I'm going to win. This is my story (XKCD
<http://xkcd.com/> homage style) so far.
 I'm downmodding him.
 WHO ARE YOU! <http://tevis.s3.amazonaws.com/i/3000/the-3000-final_02.png>

 Who's Dirk Kempthorne?
 More cynical. <http://tevis.s3.amazonaws.com/i/3000/the-3000-final_04.png>

 $26,000 <http://tevis.s3.amazonaws.com/i/3000/the-3000-final_05.png>
 It's impossible.
 This is the Internet!
 For $8.34, you can make history.

UPDATE - Tuesday, July 22nd

 Backup <http://tevis.s3.amazonaws.com/i/3000/backup.png>


We've met our goal of 3,000, enabling us to run a competitive campaign, but
you can help us win. It's for an excellent cause, you'll be making history,
and you will be greatly appreciated.

          Donate via PayPal >

The Rules

Campaign finance rules:

* The maximum donation per person, per cycle is $500.

* The Primary cycle ends Aug. 5, 2008 and the General cycle begins on
Aug 5 and ends on December 31, 2008. So, you and your spouse can donate
$1000 now and $1000 after Aug 5th, 2008.

* Donations cannot be accepted from non-U.S. citizens.

* Occupation and Industry information is required under state law for
donations in excess of $150. We'll email you for that information.


Donate more than $8.34 and get some nice things:

* $60 - We'll send a really nice, big thank you card signed by all of
our volunteers. It's not exotic or valuable, but it's genuine appreciation.
We'd love to send you more, but we're really trying to conserve our
resources and spend thriftily.

* $120 - We'll send you a limited edition campaign t-shirt. It's
well-designed, unlike most campaign stuff.

* $250 - We'll send you a limited edition campaign t-shirt and a
coffee mug with the Kansas flag on it.

* $500 - We'll send you a limited edition campaign t-shirt, a coffee
mug with the Kansas flag on it, and a DVD video from Sean Tevis' mom telling
you how wonderful you are, because you are.

Other Things
. A list of all other Kansas
<http://seantevis.com/kansas-representatives.php> Representative campaign
. This site is protected by this Creative
<http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/> Commons License
Paid for by Sean Tevis for Kansas, Andria Berg, Treasurer

 <http://www.sitemeter.com/stats.asp?site=s48tevis> Site Meter
 <http://s48.sitemeter.com/stats.asp?site=s48tevis> Site Meter

41273470.jpg seantevis-header-728.gif social-icons.gif the-3000-final_01.png the-3000-final_02.png the-3000-final_03.png the-3000-final_04.png the-3000-final_05.png the-3000-final_06.png the-3000-final_08.png the-3000-final_09.png backup.png pixel.gif
Received on Tue Jul 29 10:04:23 2008

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