The anti-Gov. Martin O'Malley group Change Maryland recently celebrated a milestone: the number of likes on its Facebook page surpassed those of the governor himself.
Change Maryland Chairman Larry Hogan said the big moment came within the past week, and now they have 47,406 likes to O'Malley's 46,140.
"This is a former mayor, two-term goveror who is running for president, we've got more people engaged online than he does," Hogan said in an interview. "And we're just a rag-tag group of engaged citizens in Maryland."
Change Maryland started two years ago at the same time Hogan was building a network for a potential bid for the governor in the Republican primary. The organization puts out research reports on O'Malley's policies, most recently tallying up how many fee and tax increases have been passed over the past six years.
In a state where Republicans are outnumbered by a 2-to-1 registration advantage and Democrats dominate public policy, the apparent Facebook success feels like a major victory, Hogan said. He said he's optimistic the online popularity will translate into rank-and-file GOP members feeling like they may be able to change the status quo.
"There's an awful lot of people in Mayrland who feel like they don't have a voice, and we're trying to give a voice to them," Hogan said. " "It's sort of like old school grass roots politics, but on steriods."
Facebook likes are not the only indicator of prowess in social media. As of Monday, Change Maryland's Twitter account has 329 followers. O'Malley's has 40,663.