HOPE, N.D. — Perhaps the most talked-about political race this year in North Dakota — now thanks to Facebook — is that between the current Secretary of State Al Jaeger (R) and his adversary Corey Mock (D).
In a campaign initiated by the North Dakota College Republicans, Mock has been attacked in the media for some questionable Facebook status messages and photos.
Mock, born in 1985, is 25 years old. If he is elected into the office of Secretary of State, he will be the youngest to hold that position in the United States. He currently holds a position in the North Dakota House of Representatives to which he was elected in 2008.
Jaeger was elected as Secretary of State in 1992 and has been re-elected into the position four times. He is 66 years old.
I bring up the candidates’ ages because this campaign has been focused around Mock’s Facebook account.
In a 35-second video, set to the background music “Margaritaville” by Jimmy Buffett, the North Dakota College Republicans flash status messages and a photo of Mock holding a beer while seated in a hot tub with other people, intending to persuade the average viewer that Mock is an irresponsible party animal.
My initial reaction is that of nonchalance. What one does in his free time does not dictate how he will conduct his professional life. I really didn’t pay much attention.
Then I watched it again, this time pausing the video so I could see Mock’s individual Facebook status messages and the dates they were posted:
Corey Mock writing an obituary for his liver: senior banquet, sweet tarts and Two Yard (oh no!) – April 25, 2007
Corey Mock A night at the bar… Drink suggestions? – August 11, 2009
Corey Mock Hello, Mr. Wine Rack. – December 21, 2009
Corey Mock “Winning improves your sex life and the taste of beer.” – September 29, 2009
My guess is that the North Dakota College Republicans felt the last Facebook status message displayed was the most heinous, since it appeared out of chronological order.
I was curious why that status message was in quotes, so I Googled it. I was right: Corey Mock was indeed quoting someone or something else. I found a placard on the site pubsignshop.com with that exact quote for $19.95.
YouTube comments on the mud-slinging video echo an email sent by the Democratic Non-Partisan League for North Dakota, which called Jaeger out for being incompetent and inefficient. On the YouTube video, Grassynollie posted, “Yeah, how could a guy who occasionally drinks legally be as good at the job as someone who forgot to put a guy’s name on the primary ballot? Also, since corey [sic] hasn’t had the same profile picture for the past year, so you clearly edited this.”
Stephnezze, on YouTube, took it a step further and wrote, “College Republicans? Most like high school republicans. I thought that online harassment and bullying was something only young teens did. One day when you are old enough to legally drink[…] you will realize that this video did nothing but make yourselfs [sic] look silly.”
Because North Dakota is a traditionally Republican state and voters tend to re-elect politicians currently holding positions in order to maintain political standing, I doubt this video was necessary to persuade older voters. However, in the age of social networking, I feel the video against Mock did more to rile the young Democrats in the state, and the race for the North Dakota Secretary of State seat could be a close one this year.