You know how pundits love to talk about how certain candidates are "courting" young voters? Here's a twist on a cheap metaphor: John Denney, the Independence Party candidate for Minnesota's 6th Congressional District, and his wife, Samantha, have begun reaching out to voters on Tinder.
The dating app is usually used for, well, dating. It begins by browsing the Facebook pictures of another person who's within a set mile radius. Swipe left to say no thanks, swipe right to say yes. If two people swipe right, they're able to chat.
No, the Denneys are not swingers. His profile targets women and hers targets men. But just so there's no confusion, the couple has included wedding photos and a quick bio making his intentions clear.
This may be the first you're hearing of Tinder in the political arena -- or at all -- but the Denneys are certainly not the first to give it a whirl. Earlier this summer, Andrew Echevarria of the Ontario Libertarian Party encouraged people to "Hook up with Liberty!"
The strategy is simple. There are only 41 days left before the election, and while the Denneys are out campaigning, the Tinder app will serve as another tool to get the candidate's name and message out there.
It's also free. The Denneys are running a truly grassroots campaign on a mere $4,000. Compare that to GOP candidate Tom Emmer's $833,000, and the need to get creative makes sense.
"Emmer thinks he's going to walk backwards into a cushy seat in the United States House of Representatives without lifting a finger," John says. "At this point, we have to pull out all the stops."
Earlier this week, the St. Cloud Times described the current race in Michele Bachmann's district as "comparatively sleepy" to years past. It "scarcely seems to be on the radar for state and national Democrats" who endorsed Joe Perske, the former mayor of Sartell, but otherwise haven't provided much support.
John sets himself apart by standing for campaign finance reform, drug policy reform, net neutrality, the privatization of student loans, and a woman's right to choose. Don't use Tinder? The candidate hopes to bring his message in person to a possible debate at St. Cloud State University, where Samantha used to teach.
"If campaigns weren't focused on money and actually on what candidates stand for," she says, "I think we'd get a very different race."