Newark mayor receiving avalanche of attention for snowstorm tweets

Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, December 30, 2010

Newark Mayor Cory Booker has been battling the snow on his city's streets tweet by tweet - and getting a lot of attention doing it.

Since the Sunday storm that dumped about two feet of snow on the Newark area, he has helped lift cars, shoveled driveways and promised to send road crews to clear neighborhood streets after someone tweets that they have not been adequately plowed.

"Good 2 talk 2 u. Glad streets now clear," Booker (D) tweeted in response to @bellygirl25, who had complained that Ivy Street had not been plowed.

Not only do Newark residents know that Booker is clearing the driveways of people with Twitter handles, so does much of the national political twitterati, which is blogging about him.

Booker's tweets, multiplied in their reach through retweeting, have shown another aspect of social networking's political impact.

"He's doing something that is very effective and very much capitalizing on the potential of this media," said Doug Guthrie, a George Washington University professor who has studied social media in politics. "The lesson for politicians is you have to engage it."

Other politicians haven't fared as well in the snowstorm/social media vortex. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, both Republicans, have been dinged on Twitter and by local media for leaving town before the storm. Christie vacationed at Disney World and Guadagno in Mexico.

Booker won a second term last spring, but with fewer votes than in 2006 amid complaints that he has not effectively tackled issues such as crime and joblessness in parts of the city. The constant tweeting during the snowstorm could help boost his image.

On Wednesday, Booker - who has more than 1 million followers on Twitter - sent out this Tweet from a constituent showing him love: "RT @Yaki_Moto: Thanks to @CoryBooker 4 sendin a plow to St James Pl. Finally able 2 go 2 work . I ♥ My Mayor! J "

In New York, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's weather-related tweets have been less personal, and he has taken heat from some residents who are complaining about slow snow removal.

Bloomberg's response to his constituents on Twitter was staid in comparison with Booker's. "I know some people are frustrated by the pace of the cleanup," he wrote. "We appreciate your patience & are working together to do everything possible."

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