Lefty Startup Offers Free Apps for Democratic Candidates

The founders of Campaign Live want to level the playing field for political candidates running for state, county and local office – if those candidates are Democrats.

The month-old company has been offering Facebook, MySpace, Web and mobile Web apps for between $0 and $999, depending on a client’s ability to pay. But today Campaign Live announced a generous promotion: free apps for any Democratic candidate during election season between now and Nov. 2.

Campaign Live sells pre-fabricated or “white-label” Facebook, MySpace, and mobile Web apps which can be tweaked and branded to look custom-made. Campaign Live advises its clients to ask supporters with iPhones to bookmark the mobile Web app on the homescreen so it mimics a native iPhone app.

An example of the Campaign Live mobile web app.

The apps are basic, but they offer the functions most crucial to a candidate: meet the candidate, read news, “tweet” or “like” the campaign, and most importantly – “volunteer” and “contribute.” Donations are collected via the online Democratic fundraising clearinghouse Act Blue.

Candidates including Jerry Brown, a Democrat running for Governor in California, and Matt Dunne, a Democrat running for Governor in Vermont, are already using the service. Campaign Live also builds apps for issue campaigns such as fundraising for the Gulf Coast clean-up necessitated by the BP oil spill.

“We want to make sure that anyone who wants to run for any office or drive any issue campaign can do it, and money and technology are not the barriers to entry,” co-founder Rob Kramer told political news site The Uptake last month at Netroots Nation, a conference for progressive bloggers.

But by anyone, Kramer and his partners really mean Democrats. “We don’t think non-partisan sites ilke this work very well, primarily because we think it’s important to put your money where your mouth is,” Kramer said.

The price for a Campaign Live app is imminently affordable even for the most underground political candidates at the local-est levels who are still learning about social media.

Federal candidates are fairly savvy, but local and state candidates are still “on the learning curve” when it comes to Web and mobile apps, Kramer said. “State and local candidates are just getting up to speed with this stuff,” he said.

Campaign Live is getting a lot of interest from candidates thanks to the promotion, he said, and he is talking to national organizations including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Democratic Municipal Officials.

Kramer said he has not heard of any similar “apps for all” effort from the other side. “Democrats tend to be pretty ahead of the curve in terms of this type of technology,” he said.

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