Republican Rodney Davis, in a tight race with Democrat David Gill for Illinois' 13th Congressional District, deleted 13 consecutive posts from his Twitter account Thursday, hours after they were posted to his account during the congressional candidates' only debate of the campaign.
The debate highlighted many of the candidates' differences and provided insight into many of their positions including...their stance on Twitter? Both candidates' teams were actively tweeting during the debate; however Team Davis, which posted 17 tweets during the course of the debate, deleted 13 consecutive posts less than a day later. Politwoops, the Sunlight Foundation's database of politicians' deleted tweets, collected Davis's posts and archived them publicly. Below is one of the thirteen.
'Tis the season for mass deletions, though it's usually from sitting officials who suddenly realize they were using their official Twitter accounts for partisan chatter. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton just this week had a major housecleaning when the DC Democrat realized she had been using her official account for partisan tweets, and Rep.Jeff Miller, R-Fla., deleted his entire Twitter account after he was caught questioning President Obama's citizenship.
Davis's campaign did not respond to requests for an explanation of the deletions. One possibility: Davis may have decided he wanted to perpetuate the notion that he tweets for himself -- something that would have been impossible during the debate. On his opponent's Twitter account, Team Gill explicitly flagged the fact that the candidate was not controlling his own Twitter account over the course of the debate.
Another possible explanation for Davis's tweet deletions could revolve around factual inaccuracies posted in some of the statements. Roughly half of the deleted posts were presented as "Fact Checks," however, when researching them, Sunlight found a couple of inaccuracies. In one "Fact Check" tweet, Davis states that 88% of donors to his campaign are individuals. According to Sunlight Foundation's Influence Explorer, that number is more like 78%, with 22% of his funding coming from PACs. He also stated that he'd never expressed support for the Ryan Budget -- a claim which is partially discredited in this article.
Prior to running for congress, Davis worked as an aide to Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., who has recently been in the news after one of his staffers allegedly assaulted Lindsey Lohan in New York. Davis downplays his past experience in politics, emphasizing his role as a family man on his website. This is probably in a response to his challenger's platform. Gill, who has no political background, uses that fact to his advantage. " I've never been elected to any office, never been paid by the taxpayers or answered to any politician," he writes on his website.
The two men are vying for a seat that retiring Rep. Tim Johnson, a centrist Republican, has occupied for a dozen years. According to the Cook Political Report, polls are split just about evenly, with Gill showing 40 percent of the vote and Davis 39 percent.