Paul Newell’s campaign for Sheldon Silver’s Assembly seat recently got some major press, as mentioned here and here, from local coverage of an unfortunate incident in Silver’s career. The candidate’s own media strategy is more fanciful. You may recall, for example, the “Obamawitz” image that hit the blogs a while back, portraying the bespectacled candidate in the manner of the famous Obama “Hope” poster.
Now we have found a Newell Facebook page that owes even less to traditional political outreach: Cougars for Newell.
“We think he’s just what we need in our government,” reads the page description, “a good lookin’ young, single, and bold (bald) progressive. Not only is he the Bialystock of the Bowery, Paul has the right kind of touch (caress) and nearsighted vision that will bring a wave of fresh idea to Albany.”
We suspected at first that this was some sort of opposition rat-fuck, but Newell campaign manager Evan Hutchison tells us that it is indeed part of the candidate’s armament for defeating the powerful Assembly Speaker.
“I’ve worked Presidential campaigns,” says Hutchison (who has served as, among other things, a Regional Director for Wesley Clark in New Hampshire, and as Ohio State Director for Vote Mob), “and a lot of times these constituent groups are total crap. So we sat around thinking up ridiculous names for a group, and settled on Cougars for Newell. It’s fun, it has that reference to ‘The Graduate’ because Paul’s kind of a nebbishy kid.” (No argument there.) “If you want to turn out young voters, you gotta be creative, show you’re not a stuffed shirt.”
Cougars for Newell is so far sparsely attended (“Come to the party this Tuesday, June 24,” reads the single Wall Post). And few of its 16 members, a peek at the member thumbnails reveals, could be remotely considered cougars (though we understand that Facebook photos can be deceiving). Nonetheless Hutchison calls Cougars for Newell a success, if only for the ancillary merch. “People love the t-shirts,” he says, which the campaign has printed to hand out at rallies and give as perks to volunteers.
We should mention that Luke Henry is also running for Silver’s seat; we will report on any related joke sites and t-shirts as they become known to us.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 16, 2008