Is it a problem if you’re a political candidate heading into Election Day, and you realize you literally have fewer Twitter followers than a hole in the ground? Two City Council candidates in Hoboken — unelected incumbent Michael Lenz and challenger Tim Occhipinti — are in that exact unlikely position today, and will find out just what it means when voting closes tonight.
Twitter, Hoboken, and an enterprising TV writer have come together to give us what may be a national first: a geological disaster running for public office. A few weeks ago, a giant sinkhole devoured a portion of waterfront road and sidewalk on Frank Sinatra Drive in uptown Hoboken. Shortly after, a Twitter feed claiming to be the “Hoboken Sinkhole” turned up and became something of a local sensation, drawing followers with a mix of silly observations and jabs at local political candidates who haven’t done enough to fix the city’s infrastructure problems. Last week, after it surpassed City Council candidates Lenz and Occhipinto in total Twitter followers, the sinkhole tweeted that it was entering the race as a write-in candidate for the Fourth Ward seat. Its goal was to secure a mere 25 votes.
The man behind the sinkhole Twitter would only identify himself to Daily Intel as Schmis SchmaLuca, but using our collective brainpower and the help of the Politispeak Translator 5000 (it’s multifunctional!) we deduced that he was probably actually called “What Sucks.” SchmaLuca said he started the Twitter feed to mock local and national politics. He did it for the “chance to say the sinkhole was not caused by faulty design, but rather by former Hoboken mayors tunneling themselves out of jail.” And so he could say to the tea party: “You think you’re insane? We wrote in a sinkhole!” Oh, and so he might one day get a sitcom deal like Justin Halpern of “Shit My Dad Says.”
This election has been especially bitter; the two campaigns have been in and out of court bickering over voter fraud — a display of how dearly each side values every single vote. Could a large hole in the ground actually be an Election Day spoiler like Ross Perot or Ralph Nader?
Neither campaign really knew how to answer that question and both tried to make light of the write-in campaign while getting in a shot at the opponent. “I am very concerned about the Sinkhole’s write-in candidacy,” Lenz’s campaign manager, Sam Briggs, told Intel. “Although at the end of the day I think the voters that are attracted to the sinkhole will probably come more from our opponent[‘s side] than our side.” He added: “The Sinkhole has a better grasp of our infrastructure needs then our current opponent.”
“The Sinkhole doesn’t live in the Fourth Ward; he can neither vote nor stand for election,” Occhipinti campaign manager David Cruz kidded, before getting serious and using the sinkhole to deride his opponent and the city’s mayor: “You couldn’t find a more potent symbol of the incompetence of the current administration. We thank the sinkhole for growing every day.” Even if it doesn’t make a mark today, the sinkhole and SchmaLuca needn’t give up: The Onion is already scouting the sinkhole as a possible spoiler for Obama and Palin in 2012.
Here’s some background on the sinkhole: