Social media impacts campaigns

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Social media messaging is something businesses of all sizes emphasize, as well as candidates for office and their supporters. The bar in that department was set by President Barack H. Obama in both 2008 and 2012.

One of the best sources for content of social media messaging in the campaign setting would be media sources. I have a feeling the Larry Hogan for governor campaign will be highlighting the website version of WBAL TV's lead story from Tuesday's 6 p.m. broadcast.


Investigative reporter Jayne Miller featured Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot in a report about the invoicing trail, or lack thereof, for state vendors setting up the call center to service Maryland's implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Franchot, who is a Democrat, bemoaned the ACA contracting that went outside of normally established systems that would ordinarily go through the Maryland Board of Public Works.

That three member body includes the comptroller, the governor and the state treasurer. The regular contract award system has a well understood series of steps to ensure transparency and accountability. Franchot griped on camera in Miller's report that none of these systems were present for the call center contract.


The story described WBAL TV's requests for the paper trail of expenses for this call center and the manner in which the state responded. Some of the invoices revealed limited information. Others documents revealed contradictory information, according to the report.

Sen. Joseph Getty, R-District 5 is a heavy contributor on social media. One of his recent Facebook posts described the divergence of state versus county funding of Carroll County Public Schools for the last four budget cycles.

The current board of county commissioners has steadily increased funding to our schools. In contrast, the state budget has consistently reduced funding to Carroll schools. State K to 12 funding is based on a formula. One of the main drivers of the formula is student population. The past several years our student population has been declining.

If the O'Malley-Brown administration was so committed to education, why not make any effort to bring a budget adjustment to this situation? Getty has other content on how Carroll senators attempted to make such an adjustment, but his plan did not work out on the House of Delegates side of the budgeting process.

One of the most intriguing local elected officials to follow in the social media arena is Commissioner Richard Rothschild, R-District 4. Some of his critics have been rather creative in their social media efforts to negatively impact his re-election prospects. Rothschild has developed his own social media content with creative elements.

In the midst of this year's oh so interesting GOP primary, a Youtube video was circulating that placed a grinning photo of Rothschild's head onto the body of Miley Cyrus riding the infamous wrecking ball. The lyrics of that pop tune were changed to accuse Rothschild of destroying our public schools.

I thought the video was pretty funny, but I did question the premise of its content. For the last three budgets Rothschild has been in the minority on the county budget. This means he voted against the budget for three straight years.

Recently Rothschild has decided to fight fire with fire and has posted a series of animated videos on social media. The setting in these videos is two characters carrying on a conversation about the record of the commissioner's actions in office verses the charges being made against him.


One video explores budgeting issues relating to public schools and teacher compensation. This video noted that the O'Malley-Brown administration has forced all counties to begin contributing millions of dollars in teacher retirement funding. Such a shift in responsibility clearly impacts the county's ability to fund operations of our schools. Another video takes on the media's role in the campaign.

We'll know what if any impact any of this has with voters very soon.

Michael Zimmer writes from Eldersburg. His column appears on Fridays. Email him at