Can an untested tech guru use cheap, highly effective, technologically advanced methods to win the governor’s race in Kentucky?
But for argument’s sake, let’s say maybe.
Drew Curtis, founder of Fark.com, a website founded in 1999 that aggregates the irreverent, announced Monday he was going to run for governor of because it “was the first available spot” where he felt “taking a shot might work.”
But the man who created the site with the name that “doesn’t mean anything” didn’t decide to run in a vacuum.
Curtis told The Daily Beast he got the idea from a friend who was “fed up with what she had to work with” in terms of her elected officials, so she ran for a judgeship and won.
“Watching that whole process go down was really interesting,” he said. “It seems like [politicians aren’t] trying to do the right thing anymore, and they’re all checking their donor lists and making decisions based on [donor preferences].”
As a result, he decided to launch a campaign but decided not to affiliate himself with any party because of the money flooding the established parties.
Instead the campaign’s structure will be based on “data-driven” models and, Curtis said, will not be beholden to the traditional masters of the two-party system.
“There are things you can do that are highly effective on the cheap that were just not possible 10 to 20 years ago,” he said.
One of the signature strategies he plans to launch soon will use an algorithm on Facebook and Twitter to find potential voters.
The program would be used instead of “knocking on every door in the state, which would be the most effective way but the least [effective] use of my time,” he said.
Despite being a political novice, and perhaps harnessing the—ahem—cojones of his website’s lone attraction from 1997-99, Curtis said he was determined to make a mark with his campaign, particularly in the area of campaign finance.
“If everybody gave $5 to the candidate they were voting for, that would wash out the influence of money. It’s an imperfect solution, but it’s one way to do it,” he said.
But another of Curtis’s “core issues,” he said, will be a topic he “didn’t previously have an opinion on” before he decided to run.
“Take the issue of Right to Work,” he wrote on Fark.com in his announcement. “A democrat (sic) could never pass it, and a republican (sic) could never veto it. Neither would ever look into the data to try to figure out if this law was even a good idea. Worse, neither would ever look into the unintended consequences of their actions.”
On everything else, his answer can be summed up by “meh.”
“I don’t have ‘beliefs’ on issues of economics,” he wrote. “I’m more or less agnostic on social issues. And I’m far more excited about retooling the executive branch to better interface with customers than anything else.”
He added, “The only fringe idea I have is that Government could work better.”
Curtis will face stiff competition from the powers that be in his bid for governor. Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway, a Democrat who lost a Senate bid to Sen. Rand Paul, has already declared his candidacy. James Comer, the Republican state agriculture commissioner, and former state Supreme Court Justice Will T. Scott, have joined the race, as well, in addition to a few others.
Curtis is undeterred.
“People are really ecstatic. I was surprised,” he said. “I was hoping people would be sort of supportive about it, but they were really ecstatic to extremely ecstatic.”
He added, “They see this as an opportunity to really change something.”