Like any other underdog candidate, Tony Nunziato is trying to find any edge over his opponent.
But he’s not looking for a high-priced pollster or a well-connected political strategist for his campaign to unseat longtime Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Maspeth).
Instead, the first-time candidate made a call to Scott Detweiler, a software designer in Brookfield, Wis., almost 1,000 miles away from Nunziato’s Maspeth florist shop, which doubles as his campaign headquarters.
The result is a Web site without peer in a borough with numerous campaigns for city and state office. “Having a Web presence is essential for anyone running a grassroots operation,” said Eric Ulrich, Nunziato’s political director and the GOP candidate for Joe Addabbo’s council seat. “We’re not using traditional means of campaigning.”
Nunziato’s Web site integrates press releases, volunteer outreach and fundraising on a Web engine designed by Detweiler’s company, Ideal Campaigns.
And if the longshot 30th Assembly District candidate’s Web site looks familiar, that’s because Detweiler has also created campaign sites for failed GOP presidential candidates Duncan Hunter and Tommy Thompson. “I’m a conservative Republican, and it seemed natural to use our technology to help conservative candidates reach out to voters,” Detweiler said.
With the Web site up and running since Nunziato formally kicked off his campaign last week in Maspeth, the jury is still out about whether his beefed-up Internet presence will make any difference in the short time left before the November election. “When next week’s numbers come out, I think you’ll see a big bump for us,” Nunziato said, referring to his campaign’s next periodic financial disclosure report, due to come out before Election Day.
The latest financial disclosure statement from the state elections board in July had $21,439.07 on hand for Nunziato, compared with $18,768.98 for Markey.
For a campaign short on both political traction and time in a predominately Democratic Assembly district once held by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Bronx, Queens), the beefed-up Web presence adds much needed weight to Nunziato’s campaign.
And with his incumbent opponent lacking any Internet campaign footprint, Nunziato is at least making a play for an increasing number of voters who get their news and information from the Internet.
A spokesman for Markey called out Nunziato’s Web site for not accurately reflecting the GOP challenger’s candidacy or addressing the needs of the 30th Assembly District, which includes Maspeth, Woodside and parts of Long Island City, Middle Village, Astoria and Sunnyside.
But Detweiler is clear that his campaign Web engine is no magic bullet for longshot GOP candidates — a fact driven home by Hunter and Thompson’s early exit from the Republican campaign trail earlier this year.
“I’m a software developer, not a political activist,” Detweiler said. “I can’t win campaigns…. that’s not my job.”