Test PAC Loves the Internet, and May Get Involved in Ben Quayle/David Schweikert Race

A mostly online-based political-action committee is considering getting involved in Arizona's Sixth Congressional District primary between Republican Congressmen Ben Quayle and David Schweikert.

Test PAC loves the Internet. Quayle, several of the PAC's members believe, does not.

"Quayle co-sponsored [the Stop Online Piracy Act] before he withdrew his co-sponsorship," Test PAC treasurer Andy Posterick tells New Times. "He then went on to co-sponsor [the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act], and voted for it, and it's one of the only things that separates him from Schweikert."

Test PAC is a pretty different concept.

PACs are sometimes thought of as secretive, shadowy organizations, but you can find pretty much every idea, plan, and conversation about topics Test PAC has right here, on the social news website Reddit.

Test PAC is relatively new, but it's already intervened in one race, in which it campaigned against Texas Republican Congressman Lamar Smith, the sponsor of SOPA.

That didn't go over too well, despite the PAC's billboards, TV ads, flyers, and interaction with voters. The incumbent Smith raked in 77 percent of his district's Republicans.

"We were biting off a lot more than we probably could've chewed," Posterick says.

So they didn't dismantle a powerhouse by getting one of two no-names to take Smith's spot, but the concept of the PAC certainly is innovative.

Consider this popular thread about how Test PAC "screwed the pooch" with its billboard.

This mailer came from these ideas, and was revised from this conversation -- it's like PAC democracy.

One problem, as you could imagine, is the so-called "Internet slacktivism." Many people in online communities sure love supporting things, as long as it doesn't require much more than a couple minutes and a mouse click. Kony 2012 anyone?

It hasn't been that much of a problem for Test PAC, Posterick says, as many people will have great ideas, and it doesn't take that many people to actually apply the ideas.

Posterick's one of those guys. He considered Test PAC his full-time job until that Texas primary, and he actually lives in Phoenix, where the PAC is based. He made the trip out to Texas to get involved in the PAC's campaign against Smith.

Nearly 1,600 people subscribe to the PAC's section of Reddit -- a "subreddit," as it's called -- and the PAC's posts can be seen by many more of the site's users if a post becomes popular enough.

And as we mentioned above, Posterick says the group's "considering" supporting Schweikert over Quayle.

Schweikert's spoken out against some of these more controversial Internet-related bills, and Posterick thinks Test PAC and its merry band of keyboard-wielders could get behind him.

"Test PAC represents the nerd demographic," he says. "I get the feeling that Schweikert's very much a nerd."

(It's supposed to be endearing.)

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley