A race in cyberspace for California governor candidates

Tom Campbell first ran for Congress in 1988 and used just a handful of tools to reach voters in the Silicon Valley district he eventually won.

Getting the campaign's message out then meant sending out mailers, running print and broadcast advertisements, and speaking to the media. Interacting with voters often meant knocking on their doors.

More than two decades later, Campbell is running for the Republican nomination for governor. This time, he's reaching millions of people without leaving the comfort of his computer.

The candidate sends campaign updates through the social networking sites Twitter and Facebook, and personally e-mails his budget proposals to voters. He holds town hall-style meetings by telephone and lets voters in on his campaign through his blog.

"It is the campaign," Campbell said of the new media tools. "It is I do the blogs myself. I do hundreds of comments."

The 2010 gubernatorial race is, in fact, shaping up as the most technology-based contest yet seen in the state, and that's not just because all five major candidates hail from the Bay Area.

The bulk of the early campaign action is happening online through YouTube videos, Google search advertisements, social-networking sites and other new media tools.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, led the pack in April by making his candidacy official on Twitter. Five months later, he tweeted about the birth of his daughter Montana as it was happening: "Baby girl :)"

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