Domain name squatters have long had an eye on the 2020 election. And it looks like Deval Patrick is their latest victim.
The former Massachusetts governor announced his late-stage entrance into the Democratic presidential primary race Thursday, just a few days after the first reports leaked out that he was reconsidering his decision not to run. That was enough time for an apparent detractor to jump on devalpatrick2020.org.
While devalpatrick2020.com links to Patrick’s official campaign website, devalpatrick2020.org directed internet users to a Boston Herald column by Howie Carr, a longtime critic of the Bay State Democrat. Needless to say, the conservative commentator-turned-Republican loyalist is not a fan of Patrick’s new endeavor. And his column Tuesday characteristically derided the notion that Patrick would even consider a White House run (Carr is, after all, a close friend of President Donald Trump and a dues-paying member of the Republican president’s lavish golf club in Florida).
“Surely this is some kind of gag, a practical joke of sorts — it’s too late for trick-or-treat so April Fool’s Day must have come early,” he wrote.
It, however, was not a joke. It’s not clear who exactly put in the effort to register devalpatrick2020.org and send users to Carr’s column. The domain was scooped up Wednesday, but Carr says it wasn’t him.
While such website URL tricks have become something of a tradition among political operatives, experts say the practice is mostly worthless. Even during the last presidential cycle, most website traffic was driven by search engine and social media, as opposed to direct URL links.