You Can Follow Toronto's Social Media Mayoral Candidate – But You Can't Vote for Him

Steve Murray has all the makings of a successful social media politician. He’s on Twitter. He’s on Facebook. And he’s on at least 18 other social networks, including Purrsonals, the social network for cat lovers. This Torontonian actively responds to fellow citizens on his mayoral website and social networks. But citizens of Toronto can’t actually vote for Murray, as he missed the deadline to register as a candidate. But that’s not stopping this self-proclaimed Newspaperman from garnering thousands of supporters online, and maybe even a few “spoof votes” at the ballot box. Read below the jump for how this graphic artist turned into the social media darling who doesn’t stand a chance, even if most Torontonians vote “Murray4Mayor”.

Spoof campaigns have cropped up before, but we have yet to see one this convincing. Steve Murray is on every social network, ever promoting his bid for the mayor of Toronto. Well, maybe not every social network, but he is head-and-shoulders above any other Toronto mayoral candidate. Most (of those who are even online) use some combination of the “big 3″ – Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. However, Murray has created a profile on at least 20 different social networks. And here’s the kicker: this “spoof” candidate actually responds to citizens on most of these networks, a basic component of social media that his competition fails to meet.

This non-candidate candidate knows what the young generation of social media-savvy Torontonians want: tongue-in-cheek satire masking astute observations about the state of political affairs in their city. Looking at Murray’s website, Murray4Mayor, you get the gist of his “bid” right away. His photo album has pictures of him kissing his cat, eating a hamburger, and standing angrily in front of a Toronto Transit Commission subway stop with a caption reading:

Nothing angers Steve more than the TTC. If he’s elected mayor, he’ll work around the clock to ensure that NO ONE has to use transit EVER AGAIN.

He’s riffing on those politicians that claim they want to “clean up” public transit while offering no real solutions.

Murray’s social networking strategy is positively ridiculous, and the fact that he was able to set up 20 profiles and maintain them without even being a candidate is a blow to politicians who don’t even bother to update their Facebook page after its initial setup (or, worse, get an aide to respond to tweets with cut-and-paste sections of the latest PR memo).

Murray is a graphic artist for the National Post, a Toronto-based newspaper. Late September, Murray wrote a piece for the National Post announcing his spoof bid, and listed three reasons why he would make a great Toronto mayor:

One: I live in the city. In the heart of it, i.e. Parkdale. So I understand crime, delicious roti and trendy new bars.

Two: I started out at the newspaper illustrating stock charts, so I clearly know a thing or two about finance (you want the line going up, friends).

Three: I’m a cartoonist, which means I would have unprecedented insight with which to do political cartoons about myself and my supposed failings.

He also knows that being a relatively unknown candidate presents him with some challenges:

There are a few obstacles against me, sure. I have an outrageous temper and really enjoy cheating on my spouse. I bet on illegal cat fights and have missed the deadline to enter the mayoral race. Some of these things are bigger than others and I understand that I’ll have to win you over, one purchased vote at a time, but I think it’s possible, because anything is possible when you have childlike wonderment on your side.

All-in-all he’s confident about his bid.

It should be noted that Murray isn’t the only candidate with a website or using social media, but he is definitely the most visible. His Twitter is updated dozens of times a day as he re-tweets and responds to followers. And even his Purrsonals profile reflects the fact that he is running for mayor.

While Murray really can’t gain any votes as he isn’t registered as a candidate, that’s not something that’s going to stop him from trying. It will be interesting to see how the ballots are tallied at the end of October when Torontonians go to the polls, some possibly scribbling “Murray4Mayor” across their ballots in a show of solidarity with the young social media superstar.

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