Newsom adds political Facebook page

In a move observers say points to continuing higher-office ambitions, Mayor Gavin Newsom launched a new political Facebook page Friday — and signed up more than 1,000 new supporters over the weekend.

Newsom, who was first elected mayor in 2003 when he was 36 years old, has said that he is considering a run for the Democratic nomination to the governor’s race in 2010.

Newsom’s political consultant, Eric Jaye, said the purpose of the Facebook page and other Web-related venues, such as Second Life, an online virtual world in which Newsom has an avatar, was to converse with more residents.

“The goal is to reach San Franciscans and Californians interested in San Francisco so they’ll help him shape and adopt a bold policy agenda,” Jaye said.

Newsom launched his first Facebook page in June, but ran into a cyber-ceiling when his page reached the 5,000-friend limit several months ago, Jaye said.

A new page, created within the social networking site’s US Politics application, allows people to sign up as “supporters” of a candidate, instead of the “friends” label given to those who link to regular Facebook pages. The new site includes his previous 5,000 friends, so now Newsom is up to 6,106 supporters, placing him 33rd on a list of politicians using the popular social-networking site.

Facebook expanded its product line in November to allow the creation of political pages that can be partially viewed by the public without signing up for an account, said Matt Hicks, a spokesman for the company.

More than 500 politicians have Facebook pages, reaching more than 70 million active users, according todata from the Palo Alto-based social-networking site.

The new application also allows politicians to receive reports based on the online traffic to their page, said Hicks, including demographic and geographic information, and what types of profile elements the views click on while visiting the site.

Allan Hoffenblum, a Republican political consultant and publisher of the California Target Book, said it was another medium “to maximize voter contact” cheaply, which would be useful to Newsom in Southern California, where he is not known for much other than authorizing gay marriages in San Francisco in 2004.

“It’s a wise thing for him to do because it transcends borders,” Hoffenblum said. “People with ambitions tend to do ambitious things.”

Bob Mulholland, the chief spokesman for the California Democratic Party, compared political races to another sport.

“A person who wants to win a bike race — they’re biking every week,” Mulholland said. “It sounds like he’s biking everywhere.”

dsmith@examiner.com

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