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Bogart gets international aid in Pasco sheriff's race Facebook battle

Everyone knows the first thing voters want in a good sheriff's candidate is someone with lots of fans on Facebook.

Okay, maybe not.

But it can't hurt, right? A little social media juice can spread some buzz, get the campaign's message out to more voters.

Democrat Kim Bogart, a former sheriff's captain who narrowly lost the 2008 sheriff's race, has realized the strategy also carries a certain amount of risk.

Visitors last week to his 2012 campaign Facebook page could see that most folks "talking about" the site were actually from Cairo, Egypt. Not the people who might cast a ballot in Pasco.

("Talking about" refers to people "liking" a page or referencing the page on their personal profile. Incidentally, that indicator has now changed to a locale closer to home, New Port Richey.)

Bogart explains: "My expertise is public safety, it's not social media." In March, he spent $975 for a Colorado-based social media company to implement an "aggressive" online marketing strategy. The company, he said, has more than 25,000 contacts worldwide.

"When they market me, it reaches way more than just Pasco County," he said. "I wish you could just limit it to Pasco County, but they can't. They have no way to know where all the contacts are."

So, a fair number of Bogart's 954 "Likes" include folks from outside Pasco. Tallahassee. Alabama. Egypt. Bogart hasn't touted the statistic, saying he's focused on meeting voters and stressing his law enforcement experience.

"The number of Likes on my Facebook page, I would hope that's not what influences people," he said.

Sheriff Chris Nocco — who must survive a three-person Republican primary before November's general election — agrees. "I'm in a position where my actions are going to speak louder than anything we can do from a political standpoint," he said.

But Nocco's campaign isn't ignoring Facebook fans. In March, the campaign touted the 300th person who "liked" the page and encouraged each person to share the page with four friends to reach 1,200. Right now, Nocco has 462 Likes, and most people "talking about" the page are also from New Port Richey.

For the record — because everyone knows this is vital to the upcoming election — Republican Maurice Radford has 143 Likes, with most of the buzz coming from Dade City. Roger Fortney, also a Republican, has 134 Likes, though his page doesn't include a geographic metric.

Democrat Larry Roberts, who has shown little presence on the campaign trail, does not have a Facebook page.

Lee Logan can be reached at llogan@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6236.

Bogart gets international aid in Pasco sheriff's race Facebook battle 05/02/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 2, 2012 8:53pm]
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