Online political endeavors expanding

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by Heather B. Hayes

Forget a simple Web site. Today’s presidential candidates are using the latest tech trends to connect with voters — gaining “friends” and “supporters” on social networking sites Facebook and MySpace, sharing campaign videos on YouTube, and keeping supporters up-to-date with mobile phone alerts.

Virginia politicians are latching onto the trend. Gov. Timothy M. Kaine and Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling are just two examples of state officials who have personal profiles on Facebook. Former Gov. Mark R. Warner, now in the running for a U.S. Senate seat, has one as well.

Today’s technology is giving Virginia’s political parties a dizzying array of new tools to reach and engage voters, but it takes patience to see what works. “It’s worth the effort to get new Republicans involved and to provide new ways for our veteran volunteers to help our candidates,” says Shaun Kenney, communications director for the Republican Party of Virginia.

The Internet has also given parties a new way to raise funds — through simple online forms.

“It allows people who can’t get to an event or aren’t inclined to come to the traditional high-dollar fund raisers to get involved,” says Danae Jones, communications director for the Democratic Party of Virginia.

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