Don’t be surprised if you’re searching for a Richmond mayoral candidate’s website and end up on natepetersonformayor.com.
Nate, who, you ask? A brief introduction, then an explanation: Nate Peterson, 25, announced on social media late last month that he would join the city’s crowded field of mayoral candidates. Originally from Northern Virginia, he relocated to Richmond to attend Virginia Commonwealth University, but dropped out for financial reasons. He now works in medical administration.
Peterson, who has never held elected office, has formed a campaign committee and is in the process of gathering the requisite signatures needed to appear on the November ballot, he said.
“I don’t want to be represented by someone who is a businessman or a lawyer or something like that. I want to see someone who represents my interests. Instead of waiting for someone like myself to run, I decided just to run myself,” Peterson said.
Aside from the paperwork, Peterson has also taken strides to establish his web presence. He purchased his domain name – natepersonformayor.com – then bought brucetylerformayor.com, chadingoldformayor.com, joemorrisseyformayor.com, levarstoneyformayor.com, lillieestesformayor.com, and michellemosbyformayor.com. You’ll recognize the names as his fellow candidates, declared or, in case of Stoney, presumed.
“I thought, why wait for them to buy it if they haven’t bought their websites yet?" he said. "I’ll buy it for them and reroute it to mine."
Chad Ingold, a Richmond Public Schools teacher and declared mayoral candidate, took exception to the tactic.
"His website says he's not a politician and he doesn't have any money, but that was a heck of a political move that cost a bit of money," Ingold said, adding that he may try to reach out to the web host and re-register the domain featuring his name.
Peterson also owns a few additional domains with variations of certain candidates’ names, either misspelled or phrased differently (joemorriseyformayor.com; michellemosby.com). He reserved the extra investment for “the candidates I’m least interested in seeing elected,” he said.
Some candidates he wanted to block, though, beat him to the punch, he said. Jack Berry, the former head of Venture Richmond who announced his candidacy earlier this month, had secured jackberryformayor.com before Peterson had the chance to purchase it.
All told, Peterson spent about $120 on the ploy. Some may frown on the strategy, he acknowledges, but Peterson – an advertising major during his stint at VCU – sees it as a smart way to co-opt attention for his nascent bid.
Is he willing to part with a domain should one of his competitors desire it? Of course, he says.
“For a sizeable campaign contribution.”