Jane Corwin has an Internet problem. The Republican candidate in the May 24 special election in New York’s 26th Congressional District — the seat vacated by the resignation of Craigslist Congressman Chris Lee — has a sleek campaign website at janecorwin.com, which touts her business background and enumerates her endorsements. But her braintrust forgot to snap up janecorwin.org. So one of her opponents did.
Corwin’s tormentor is Ian Murphy, the Buffalo Beast editor who prank-called Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker pretending to be David Koch during the state’s union standoff. Murphy also happens to be running in the special election on the Green Party ticket. And while he’s a longshot to nab the seat, his acidic send-up of Corwin is getting attention. The .org spoof closely resembles the authentic version, but the text is a little different. Murphy’s satirical site gives Corwin a new tagline: “A Proven Millionaire. A Real Homophobe. The Ruler We Fear.” Its menu tabs include information about how to “Surrender” and “Grovel.” A disclaimer states the site is “Paid For and Operated By: Corporate Greed.”
Corwin isn’t the only candidate burdened by Internet baggage. Presidential hopeful Rick Santorum has been haunted by search algorithms since 2003, when his comments about homosexuality spurred a columnist to create an alternate definition for his surname. It’s been at or near the top of Google’s rankings ever since.
Jon Huntsman Jr., the former Utah governor, ambassador to China and potential GOP presidential candidate, had a more obvious lapse than Corwin’s, neglecting to purchase jonhuntsman.com. The domain was grabbed by a Democratic activist, who underlined Huntsman’s ties to President Obama by posting a glowing, handwritten note Huntsman sent to his former boss, which calls Obama a “remarkable leader.” The site’s logo is a mash-up of Obama’s trademark sunrise image and a pink heart.
Obama’s 2008 campaign was hailed for its use of online organizing tools, but three years later, its text-messaging blasts seem downright analog. With digital media poised to play a major role in 2012, candidates may want to shell out a few extra bucks a month to ensure that they’ve got their bases covered online.