The hijacking of #weknownathan

On the Monday after a week of brutal media scrutiny over a 3-year-old ethics case, the campaign of Republican incumbent Gov. Nathan Deal really, really wanted to win the Internet. So far, it's not working out.

The governor's morning outreach to GOP lawmakers was coupled with a "We Know Nathan" campaign. Bumper stickers and T-shirts were involved. But key to the movement was the Twitter hashtag, #weknownathan.

Democrats were actually the first to use the hashtag, but soon Republicans took it up in defense of the governor. By the afternoon, #weknownathan was trending on Twitter, but probably not the way Deal's camp had hoped.

Deal's aides said they never intended a full-fledged social media push today, but that the added attention gave them a boost. His spokeswoman Jen Talaber said the fundraising team "reached our goal in hours, not days" thanks to the hashtag hijack.

Our AJC colleague Nick Fouriezos tracked the evolution. It started with this fundraising pitch from Deal's campaign:

Then came the amazed reaction of Matt McGrath, Carter’s campaign manager, who first used the hashtag:

Carter spokesman Bryan Thomas piled on:

These Republicans tried to fight back......

But the conversation remained largely critical:

Topping it off, late Monday, the Democratic hit squad Better Georgia quickly snapped up and put a top 10 list about the governor with this headline: "We know Nathan…We just wish we didn’t."

And later they claimed the @weknownathan hashtag as their own.

The Internet is a heartless place.

Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.

Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.

About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.