One is an unctuous, tech-savvy politician with a vaguely reptilian grin. The other is a surly, bushy-haired hacker with a knack for repelling his staunchest allies.
Both drew headlines last week, after hustling for contributions in Bitcoin.
Ostensibly, few things tie Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom to famed AT&T hacker Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer. Yet they seem to have hit on a similar strategy. Newsom began soliciting crypto-currency shortly after the Federal Elections Commission gave it a greenlight. Weev decided his “market-determined hourly rate” is one Bitcoin per hour; he used that metric to invoice federal agents for the year he spent in prison.
Whether or not Bitcoin will really enrich either of these guys is a point of debate. For all its cachet, the currency still has limited circulation and a fog of uncertainty surrounding it. Appealing for Bitcoin donations is more a symbolic gesture than anything else. Newsom might be aping the tastes of his techie friends; Weev might be establishing himself as an Internet elitist.
Perhaps that's the point. Both Newsom's and Weev's announcements generated a media firestorm, indicating that the mere mention of Bitcoin is enough to turn a campaign into a sideshow. And that could fill any war chest.