ELECTION 2017: Rogers wages anti-establishment primary campaign on Facebook

Running against the political establishment isn’t easy even under normal conditions, Save Jerseyans, but in an expensive media market state of nearly 9 million souls?

Social media is an underdog candidate’s best friend.

Nutley Township Commissioner Steven Rogers is trying to make the most of it, regularly posting lengthy Facebook Live chats with his supporters since around the time he formally entered the N.J. GOP 2017 gubernatorial primary back at the beginning of December.

“I, obviously, will not be able to knock on every door in the State of New Jersey, but I will be able to get to you through social media platforms,” Rogers promised his followers in a nearly 45 minute-long Facebook discussion on Thursday.

The use of social media for political campaigning is hardly new but it’s still relatively virgin territory. Part art, the experts say, but not without a strong scientific basis given the ability to rack up increasingly accurate “touches” with likely voters ahead of voting contests.

The most dramatic example of social media’s rhetorical capabilities is obviously Donald Trump’s continued use of the Twitter platform to keep the mainstream media guessing, and stressing, in their attempts to cover the President-elect.

It isn’t fool proof. Hillary Clinton reportedly “employed more than 100 people in her digital team and spent tens of millions of dollars targeting millennials with a series of hi-tech messages on Facebook” during the 2016 general election, and the results were infamously inconsistent with her investment.

Here in New Jersey, Rogers is part of a moderate-sized field of potential challengers next June including Lt. Governor Kim Guadagno (who just filed to run on Thursday), Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (announced), veteran SNL comedian Joe Piscopo (undecided but leaning towards running), and social media activist Joe Rullo (announced).

Similarly to the Rogers effort, the Rullo campaign thus far has also existed primarily on Facebook.