A former Lodi News-Sentinel copy editor is making a run at the soon-to-be-vacant 10th Congressional District seat based in the East Bay.
Adriel Hampton, 30, is a Democrat who is utilizing the Internet and social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter in his campaign — a most unorthodox strategy until Barack Obama used it during his presidential campaign last year. And he’s also going out in the community, talking to people in supermarkets, bars and other locations.
“I don’t think it’s a time when you can send mailers and do TV ads and win,” Hampton said. “You have to meet people.”
Hampton is running against several established Democrats, including Assemblywoman Joan Buchanan of Alamo, whose district includes Galt and Thornton; Lt. Gov. John Garamendi; State Sen. Mark DeSalnier, of Concord; Anthony Woods, of Fairfield; and Gino VanGundy, of Livermore
They will seek the seat held by Rep. Ellen Tauscher, D-Alamo, who has been nominated by Obama to be the new Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security. If the U.S. Senate confirms Tauscher’s nomination, her congressional seat will be left vacant, and a special election will be held.
Hampton, who lived for a short time in Lodi and now lives in Dublin, is relying on social media tools such as Twitter. He also says he’s an expert in “Government 2.0,” which includes using Facebook, TokBox, Twitter and other Web tools to communicate with supporters and organize his campaign.
Buchanan said in a May interview that she’s running for Congress after only about six months as a freshman Assembly member.
“These congressional seats rarely come up,” she said. “It’s hard not to look at it. I think I can be more effective in Washington than in Sacramento.”
Hampton was a News-Sentinel copy editor and sportswriter for almost a year, from mid-1998 to mid-1999, while attending San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton. He was news editor and copy editor for Alameda News Group and political editor for the San Francisco Examiner until he was hired by the San Francisco City Attorney’s Office.
Hampton said he is an investigator on San Francisco police defense cases, conducting background checks on plaintiffs suing the city and checking into criminal records of players in cases. He also defends those whom he considers wrongly-accused city employees.
He also founded Government 2.0 Radio, a talk show highlighting efforts to making the federal government more collaborative, responsive and transparent, he says.
If he is elected to Congress, Hampton said his main focus will be to remove the bureaucracy from federal government. Much of his campaign focuses on environment and labor union rights.
Hampton was about to return to college, hoping to become a city manager, when he decided to run for Congress.
“I was a little unhappy with Congressman Tauscher’s positions,” including approval of funding for the war in Iraq, Hampton said.
“I’m look looking to have a leadership role in government,” he said.
That would be either in local government or in an independent federal position like Congress. He doesn’t want to be an aide.
Top Democrats have endorsed DeSaulnier, and others like Garamendi and Buchanan have greater name recognition, but Hampton sees that as an advantage.
“I’m working against a bunch of Sacramento politicians, and that’s kind of a negative for them,” Hampton said. “I’m going to supermarkets and neighborhood bars to meet people. The first thing I hear is, ‘I’m not going to vote for any incumbents.'”
Hampton says he’ll rely on volunteer help from friends and supporters rather than hiring a consultant for $20,000 a month. And if you don’t live in his district, Hampton said people can help by making phone calls or sending Internet messages on his behalf.
No matter what happens, Hampton wants to make a difference.
“I’m having the time of my life,” he said. “People are ready for change.”
Born in Modesto, Hampton was homeschooled in the Central Valley and Calaveras County. In fact, Delta College was his first public school. The University of California at Berkeley was his second.
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How to contact Adriel Hampton