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First rule of campaigning in the 21st century: register your damn name as a domain

in The Bay and the 'Burg by

How many more stories do we have to hear about some Luddite candidate getting caught off guard when their techno-savvy opponent purchases the domain name of the candidate who must have been living in the Dark Ages.

The latest example of this is Marc Johnson, a candidate for Florida House District 56, crying foul after his opponent, state Rep. Rachel Burgin, thought far enough in advance to purchase

Forget about why Burgin did this.  The reasons are obvious and plentiful.  The question I want answered is how can Marc Johnson be so oblivious as to not think about buying his name as a domain the moment he even started hinting about running for office.

Instead, his campaign office filed an order asking Wildfire Marketing Group, a website vendor, to take down for what it claims is a violation of the 1999 Federal Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

Enacted to thwart cyber and typo squatters, the law makes it illegal to register or use a domain name that is “confusingly similar to” a trademark or personal name. In this case, Johnson’s campaign claims the linked site is not legitimate and was created to confuse voters by diverting them to Burgin’s website,, through a misspelling of Johnson’s first name.

Johnson’s real website,, was activated in October 2009, the other two by Wildfire Marketing in February. Burgin’s campaign finance reports show she paid $1,225 to Wildfire in January.

I say that was money well spent by Burgin and she shouldn’t give up the rights to that domain name.

The first time I remember seeing something like this occur was when, in 2005, my friend Darden Rice purchased the most obvious domain name of her opponent, Earnest Williams.  Unfortunately, her campaign wasn’t able to take advantage of their cleverness, but both Rice and Burgin deserve credit for thinking in the 21st century.

So, therefore, let it be proclaimed that the first rule of campaigning in the 21st century is to register your own damn name as a domain name the moment you start considering a run for office.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.

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