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His clout in Silicon Valley gets White House hopefuls talking

June 10, 2008|Jessica Guynn | Times Staff Writer

In the populist tradition of Silicon Valley, Arrington encouraged TechCrunch readers in December and January to vote on the candidate they thought held the best positions on 10 key issues, including the digital divide and visas for foreign-born workers. He announced the poll results in January, saying Obama led the Democratic field in the TechCrunch poll with 60% of the vote, with former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards coming in second. On the Republican side of the aisle, Rep. Ron Paul of Texas claimed 73% of the votes, with McCain second.

Arrington also announced his own stand when unveiling the poll's findings, endorsing one candidate from each party: Obama and McCain.

Obama showed "real leadership and thoughtfulness on the issues," he said, including his pledge to make network neutrality a priority and promote renewable energy sources.

Obama not only got an endorsement; Arrington said the Democrat "almost certainly" has his personal vote for imparting a sense of optimism about the future that mirrors the Silicon Valley zeitgeist.

Arrington said he had a tougher time endorsing a Republican candidate because he felt each of their positions on technology was flawed. Even though Paul blew away the competition in the TechCrunch reader primary, his opposition to network neutrality and on other issues disqualified him, Arrington said.

McCain, though "standoffish" on some tech subjects, was willing to address "inequities that arise from his hands-off policies," Arrington said. McCain also offers "pure leadership experience" and "pro-business leanings."

The tech primary caught the attention of Charlie Rose, who invited Arrington on his television talk show to discuss the candidates and the issues. In that moment, Arrington achieved something rare: He got Washington to pay attention to Silicon Valley. And he says he's not done yet.

"We are going to be aggressively getting in front of the candidates again to follow up on the issues and to refine their positions," Arrington said.


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