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POSTED: Wednesday, March 11, 2009
                       
This story has been corrected. See below.

Sixty-six-year-old John Radcliffe is clutching his hip new Flip video camera, recording U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie's opening speech of his campaign for governor.

Minutes after the Sunday ceremony ended, he is e-mailing the press, asking if they want videos of Abercrombie's announcement.

Meanwhile, 70-year-old Abercrombie is making national news by announcing his gubernatorial campaign to some 4,000 “;followers”; on the hot new social-networking Internet site Twitter.

As the 2010 political season starts, politicians are finding that youth has no monopoly on the rapidly increasing new tools of communication.

“;The telephone was a great invention because it enabled politicians and political organizers to communicate directly with people; TV is great because it enables campaigners to go right into the home and make a pitch; and now YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Utterli, Ustream, Flicker ... permit you to go truly interactive,”; Radcliffe said. “;It's an organizer's dream come true.”;

Within a day of Democrat Abercrombie's announcement, Lt. Gov. James “;Duke”; Aiona, running in the GOP gubernatorial primary, announced he was setting up a Facebook page.

“;Our campaign recognizes how important these social networking sites are to stay connected with our supporters,”; said Aiona, adding that more sites are in the works.

Radcliffe, a lobbyist and veteran political consultant who has helped former Govs. John Waihee and Ben Cayetano, is a true believer in the potential of Internet politics.

“;This new stuff is, individually and collectively, a hell of a political tool,”; Radcliffe said. “;As I told somebody earlier, I feel like Clyde Barrow must have felt when he first saw his 1934 Ford V8, i.e., 'This is going to be great!'”;

While 20-somethings on Facebook may not know Clyde Barrow of “;Bonnie and Clyde”; bank-robbing fame, Ryan Ozawa, online journalist and technology consultant, says the Internet helps translate between the generations.

Ozawa, who has helped the Abercrombie campaign, advises politicians not to be “;invisible to a burgeoning demographic.”;

“;There are people younger than me who consider e-mail as quaint as postcards, who live their entire lives within Facebook, and for whom interaction online is a way of life, not a novelty,”; Ozawa said.

Watching the campaign from the mainland, Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, says Abercrombie is wise to get on the Net.

“;Naturally, people are going to ask whether a guy who is 70 is up to potentially eight years of being governor. After all, Democrats asked that very question about McCain in his presidential run,”; Sabato said. “;Twitter and Facebook are subtle ways to offer an answer.”;

Hawaii, however, is not ready for a 100 percent cyberpolitical campaign, advises Andy Winer, state chairman of the successful Obama campaign.

Winer also helped the re-election campaign of U.S. Sen. Dan Akaka and he says field work, such as phone banks and canvassing specific neighborhoods, is the most important.

“;The solid voters in Hawaii still tend to be older, and they continue to rely on TV news and newspapers to get their information,”; Winer said.

Obama's savvy use of the Internet, with his Web page and e-mail updates, were an easy-to-notice part of the campaign, says University of Hawaii political scientist Neal Milner, but they are not the whole story.

“;They offer a politician a sweet opportunity to do what he or she constantly wants to do: get flattering information about him/herself to the public,”; Milner says.

But electronic social networks have a long way to go in local politics.

“;Old-ward heelers like me are still important because we know our neighbors and will talk to them and try to get them to vote for our candidates,”; Radcliffe admits.

ONLINE OFFENSIVE

Some of the major candidates already on the 2010 campaign trail and their Web sites:

 

RUNNING FOR GOVERNOR:

Lt. Gov. James “;Duke”; Aiona: He has a Facebook page and is promising to add more social network opportunities.

» www.dukeaiona.com

U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie: Includes the full spread of social media contacts, including Blip, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Jott, Ustream, Utterli and YouTube.

» www.neil4governor.com

 

RUNNING FOR LT. GOVERNOR:

Sen. Gary Hooser: garyhooser.com

Councilman Donovan Dela Cruz: www.donovandelacruz.com

 

RUNNING FOR CONGRESS

Charles Djou: www.djou.com

 

RUNNING FOR CITY COUNCIL

John Henry Felix: www.johnhenryfelix.com

               

     

 

CORRECTION

        » A quote on Page 4 of Wednesday's morning edition was incorrectly attributed. It was John Radcliffe, not U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, who said of campaigning online, “;This new stuff is, individually and collectively, a hell of a political tool. As I told somebody earlier, I feel like Clyde Barrow must have felt when he first saw his 1934 Ford V8, i.e., 'This is going to be great!' “;