Rob Zerban, Paul Ryan's Other Challenger, Uses Reddit, Internet, To Gain Support
Rob Zerban is the Democratic challenger against Rep. Paul Ryan in Wisconsin's 1st District. Now that Ryan has been launched into the national stage, after being named Mitt Romney's candidate for Vice President, Zerban felt the need spread his message as well. Using Reddit, the popular social media website, Zerban launched an AMA, or Ask Me Anything, yesterday for Reddit users.
Zerban wrote about the fact that Ryan will be running for Congress while he is simultaneously running for Vice President, saying, "This campaign is unprecedented in American political history." I guess Zerban forgot that Joe Biden did the same thing, running for Congress in Delaware while running for VP in 2008, and Joe Liberman before him in 2000.
Zerban was faced with questions from both supporters and detractors, and tried his best to explain why voters should choose him over Ryan. One Reddit user, KingGovernor, wrote, "Paul Ryan has been HANDILY defeating democrats by a margin of 2-1 or greater for the better part of ten years, what makes you think you can do better?" Zerban replied, explaining that his campaign has raised 12 times the amount of all of Ryan's 6 previous challengers combined. Kinggoverner noted that almost 87% of Zerban's fundraising is from out-of-state groups. Users also remarked that Reddit was mainly a liberal forum, and that Zerban posting there was "pointless."
The staff for Rob Zerban, posting under the name RobZerban_dot_com, took over near the end of the AMA, because Zerban was on a flight to New York for interviews, including an appearance with Chris Matthews on Hardball, according to this post. A lot of users with unhappy with the fact that Zerban initiated the AMA, and then proceeded to leave abruptly. Zerban did himself write that he attempted to post from the plane, but a flight hostess asked him to close his computer. Both Zerban and his staff promised an AMA again when the candidate has more time.
This hasn't been Zerban's first AMA. 7 months ago, Zerban had another AMA, which got over 2,000 comments, more than his most recent AMA. Zerban wrote a message for Redditors who have been following and supporting the candidate for the past few months:
"To my old redditor friends - THANK YOU! Since doing my AMA some 8 months ago, the outpouring of support from the reddit community has been overwhelming. I cannot express how truly grateful I am for each and every one of you. You joined this fight, not because it would be easily won, but because it was the fight Paul Ryan deserved. When others would not, you believed in me and this campaign, and I have been truly humbled by your efforts."
Rob Zerban has been using social media for a long time to get his message out and attract more voters. Now that Paul Ryan has started to receive more national exposure, the Democratic challenger has managed to do so as well. Not only did Zerban's staff say that he had appearances with Chris Matthews, The Young Turks, and the Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell. It seems like Reddit is just another way for Zerban to gain exposure. He has also used Twitter and Facebook to gain followers and attack Ryan's much-debated budget plans. US News writes, "On Twitter, he wrote that the "radical" budget would hurt the middle class. And on Facebook Monday, Zerban posted the video of Ryan being heckled at the Iowa State Fair over his budget."
It will be a difficult task for Zerban to take Paul Ryan's spot in the Congressional elections, assuming the Romney-Ryan ticket fails to take the White House. Ryan has experience in Congress and, according to Zerban, the financial backing that can help Ryan win another term in Congress. But, Zerban hopes to use the internet to gain more and more voters for his fight against Paul Ryan.
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