With the explosion of Facebook, Twitter and other social media in the years since the 2004 election, more and more politicians are taking the opportunity to create online platforms for the purposes of everything from announcing legislation, to interacting with constituents, to, most vitally, raising money.
But as social media has turned even relatively obscure elected officials into digital rock stars — New Jersey Congressman Rush Holt (D) is currently a hot item on Facebook thanks to his recent battle with the IBM supercomputer Watson — there are still very prominent elected officials without much, if any, Facebook presence.
Among the laggards: at least 7 members of the United States Senate.
Senators Jack Reed (D) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D) of Rhode Island are both largely absent from Facebook. Sen. Whitehouse’s page boasts 2,288 fans but doesn’t seem to have been officially maintained by his office in sometime (this photo might be a tip-off to that). Meanwhile, Sen. Reed has no page at all. An e-mail to Senator Reed’s press office seeking comment on any plans to take a more active role in social media went unanswered.
Lil’ Rhody isn’t the only state with light Facebook representation from its U.S. senators.
West Virginia might be home to the finest coal in the land and the gilded creepiness of The Greenbrier, but good luck finding Senators Joe Manchin (D) or Jay Rockefeller (D) giving constituents updates on the goings-on in Washington or at home. Sen. Manchin maintained a fairly active Facebook page during his 2010 Senate campaign, but it hasn’t been updated since November of last year. As for Jay Rockefeller, he maintains no official Facebook page.
Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R) of Georgia, who has been in the Senate since 2003 and won his latest re-election in 2008 by a healthy 15% margin in a run-off, has no Facebook page. However, a check with Senator Chambliss’ office confirmed that the Senator is currently planning on re-instating his Facebook page used during the 2008 campaign.
It does seem curious that some Senators have opted not to maintain what amounts to a free website. But like the great philosopher Bobby Brown once intoned, that is their prerogative.