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'Social media' has become major tool in candidate fund raising

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 1, 2010 - Missouri state, local and congressional candidates are taking a rest today after a frenzied week of fund-raising that literally ended at midnight Thursday.

Facebook, Twitter, text messages and e-mail accounts were filled -- especially Thursday night -- with last-minute appeals for campaign cash.

Even Jack Dorsey, the creator of Twitter, jumped in with a Thursday Tweet telling his 1.5 million followers that midnight was a "critical deadline" for Tommy Sowers, the Democratic candidate for 8th District congressional seat. Dorsey supports Sowers.

Why all the fuss? Thursday was the last day for donations that will be made public on Oct. 15 in the final major campaign reports for the Nov. 2 election. Large tallies on those reports often are used to help fuel candidates' efforts to show momentum as their campaigns head into the final stretch.

This week's very visible, last-minute pitches -- which once were largely relegated to actual fundraising events, phone calls and letters -- highlighted how the virtual "social media" have been embraced by politicians and wannabes as a cheaper, and possible more effective, way to mine for money.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.

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