Candidates have for years been using Facebook and Twitter in their political campaigns.

But a Hawaii County Councilman tried reaching deeper into social media to find support for his state Senate run.

Greggor Ilagan was asking people on Tinder, the mobile dating app, to help him win a seat this fall to represent Puna.

Hawaii County Councilman Greggor Ilagan tried Tinder to help garner support for his Senate bid.
Hawaii County Councilman Greggor Ilagan tried Tinder to help garner support for his Senate bid. 

“Hey you! Help me make a positive difference in our community. Swipe right and let’s talk,” the 29-year-old’s profile said.

“This year, I am running for State Senate. I bet we can find common ground on issues and make a positive impact around us. Swipe right and let’s get to know each other.”

Tinder users upload photos and brief bios. Opening up the app, users appear individually based on your gender preference, geographic proximity and age range.

You swipe right if you like what you see, and then hope for that person to feel similarly and become a match, at which point you can chat or make a date to meet in person. You swipe left to reject the person, and see if you like the next one that pops up.

Using Tinder to attract campaign supporters, Ilagan ran into some problems.

“At first, I put both genders — male and female,” he said. “But because it’s a dating site, there were actually a lot of guys that were hitting on me. I was always having to direct people back to the main focus.

“They asked me, ‘Oh, can I have a date?’ And I said, ‘Well, we can have a meeting and we can talk about government and maybe you can help out on the campaign,'” he said. 

Ilagan, a two-term councilman, is trying to unseat Sen. Russell Ruderman in the Aug. 13 Democratic primary. Ruderman is seeking his second two-year term in the Senate.

“I thought the one-on-one interaction would be great, but it just leads to other things,” Ilagan said. “Now I know why people don’t campaign on it. Tinder just has a different environment and different expectation. I learned the hard way.

Ilagan, who for the record is single and straight, said one of the takeaways from his weeklong Tinder foray was learning, at least anecdotally, that the women were way more open to discussing politics.

He pulled the plug on it three days ago, and returned to Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.

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