What’s a poor politician to do if he builds a campaign website and the voters don’t come visit? Well, if he’s Republican candidate Gary Marbut, he offers the possibility of winning a BIG CASH PRIZE to those who are willing to go to his site and spend some time poking around.
Here’s the way it works (and I’m not making this up): Marbut is promising to post a trivia question every week between now and the November election for voters in House District 99, where he’s running. All the voters who get the right answer every week will have their names entered in a drawing. The drawing will be held November 5, the day before the election, and the lucky winner walk away with a $2,000 cash prize! And the great part is you don’t really have to know any trivia because the answers to all the questions will be “located somewhere in [Marbut’s] website.” Just cruise around the site long enough and presto, there’s your answer.
Now I don’t know that any of this is illegal (Marbut makes it clear that you don’t have to vote for him, or even promise to vote for him, in order to win) or even unethical (at least Marbut’s intentions here are pretty transparent), but it sure seems pathetic. Here we have a candidate with 2,000 bucks worth of campaign money and a choice to make. He could spend the money to develop an informative, readable, interesting website with solid content that voters will want to read (actually, he could do a lot more than that with $2,000). Or he can use it to induce voters to overcome their reluctance and log on to a site that is apparently chock-a-block full of trivia. Marbut likes the latter better and who knows, the voters may like it as well. But they ought to think long and hard about whether or not they want to send the guy who dreamed up this gimmick to Helena to manage the public’s money.
Actually, it shouldn’t take all that much thinking, because the people in House District 99 have an excellent candidate to vote for in Democrat Kim Dudik. As Mayor Engen puts it, Kim’s “experience working for some of our community's most vulnerable citizens means she's tough and tenacious, compassionate and caring, thoughtful and decisive.” If you want to know more about Kim, go to her website. But if you do, expect just straight talk and no cash prizes.