Campaigns gathering volunteers, donors from Internet primary
Friday, June 27th 2003, 12:00 am
By: News On 6
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Democratic candidates are counting on gaining thousands of potential volunteers, donors and campaign dollars from an online presidential primary, no matter who wins.
Final results of the vote and details about financial commitments will be released Friday by Moveon.org, a Democratic-leaning political Web site aimed at grass-roots organizing.
While candidates differed on the political significance of the event, they agreed on the value of making contact with thousands of people through the Web site.
By the time voting ended at 1:15 a.m. EDT Thursday, more than 317,000 people voted in MoveOn.org's first presidential primary, 54,730 had pledged to volunteer for their preferred candidate and 77,192 authorized MoveOn to pass on their e-mail address to their favorite candidate. Participants are not asked whether they are registered to vote, but they are asked if they are over 18.
``The primary benefit for candidates is to broaden their base of support, put new supporters on their rolls,'' said Wes Boyd, co-founder of MoveOn.org.
Campaign officials agreed that the event offered an opportunity to cultivate online support.
``We saw it as a chance to increase the number of people interested in the senator's campaign, a way to increase the number of donors in the campaign and a way to bolster our long-term online communications capabilities,'' said Robert Gibbs, a spokesman for John Kerry, a senator from Massachusetts.
A spokesman for candidate Joe Lieberman said the Connecticut senator's campaign sent an e-mail to supporters asking them to participate, as several other campaigns did.
The threshold to win the primary and get MoveOn's endorsement is 50 percent, and supporters of the early favorite, Howard Dean, acknowledge that it's not likely the former Vermont governor will get that much support in a nine-candidate field.
Those who voted were offered the option to donate to their preferred candidate. MoveOn raised $3.2 million for congressional candidates in 2000 and $4.1 million for candidates in 2002, Boyd said.