Candidate's campaign extends into the metaverse
A Capital Region state Senate candidate is taking her campaign into the metaverse, in what could be a first.
Former Rensselaer County Executive candidate Andrea Smyth-Massaroni, Schenectady County District 3 Legislator Michelle Ostrelich and former state Senate and mayoral candidate Thearse McCalmon will appear on the ballot in the June Democratic primary for the newly redrawn 46th district state Senate seat.
McCalmon is augmenting her campaign effort with a dose of technology: engaging with others in the metaverse.
McCalmon’s press secretary Paul Paterakis explains:
"Part of the crypto industry is the metaverse, which is considered web three," said Paterakis. "So the first stage of the internet was the world wide web, email and shopping. The second stage of the internet was social media. The third stage of the internet is the metaverse, which is complete with a financial system built around tokens. This is a way of interacting and having ownership over your art, photos, music and most importantly, your identity online through smart contracts."
Andrew Yang set the bar last year when his avatar appeared in the metaverse during his campaign in the New York City mayoral race.
"Thearse is open minded about the technology," Paterakis said, "and she allows me to explore outside the box ideas with the campaign. This gives me a chance to create a digital Thearse McCalmon to roam around the metaverse listen to ideas and promote her candidacy for New York State Senate."
Paterakis says campaigning is underway in both Decentraland and the Sandbox, two different components of the metaverse both run on top of the Ethereum blockchain.
McCalmon says for her the newly drawn district is "almost an open seat" because even Senator Daphne Jordan, the Republican incumbent, is new to parts of the district under the redrawn maps.
As for the metaverse, McCalmon says she immerses herself in the flesh-and-blood community, so why not do the same virtually? She gave Paterakis the O.K. to create her avatar.
"The metaverse, it's a world where people, retailers, companies, musicians, you know, athletes and celebrities, like all walks of life," McCalmon said. "They're buying these digital properties, right? And, and it's mostly so that they can have a stake in what we know will soon be the future, and especially the future of digital interaction. I'm still studying of course, the metaverse, and what other opportunities that could bring us in the future, and the way of, like, careers and for, you know, for the future of this district in particular. And right now, it's a new world to walk in, you know, I can advertise my campaign. And hopefully, I'll be able to meet and recruit volunteers, have some meet and greets, you know, hear ideas firsthand from folks exploring this new world and how they feel it's changing their views on the future or currently changing their world. And, you know, attend events and really reach people that we wouldn't probably be able to reach younger folks especially, and be able to share more about my campaign."
Paterakis notes the metaverse is in its infancy, the McCalmon campaign being among the first to dip a toe in the water.
"We are still 10 to 15 years early before we see political events in the metaverse. It will be the number one way for the younger generation to engage with our electoral process. Heck, we might even vote this way down the road," said Paterakis.
The redrawn 46th district includes part of Rensselaer County and the cities of Mechanicville, Saratoga Springs, Schenectady, and Troy. Senator Jordan, of the current 43rd district, lives in the Saratoga County Town of Halfmoon, which will be part of the new 46th, and is seeking reelection.
The primary is Tuesday, June 28.