Patrick Register, a candidate for Congress in North Carolina, wants to make magic with voters via Tinder.
“I’m not kidding,” Register wrote on his Tinder profile. “If we can make the next six weeks magical, we are on to the general election and then Washington.”
With almost no money and the May 8 North Carolina Democratic primary rapidly approaching, Register thought that posting on a dating app that bills itself as “your most dependable wingman” and boasts facilitating 26 million matches per day to discuss his campaign was a great idea.
“Tell me what you want of a representative,” he wrote on his profile. “Tell me your fears, hopes, ideas so we can build a platform for you. This is our moment.”
Register, 37, who drives for Postmates and Uber Eats, is pursuing a longshot bid to unseat Democratic incumbent Rep. Alma Adams in North Carolina’s Charlotte-based 12th Congressional District.
“I gotta tell you, it’s probably the greatest thing that I’ve done on this campaign in terms of the volume people that I can have a personal conversation with,” he said as he urged voters to swipe right.
“I imagine most candidates wouldn’t want to do it because all of sudden you’re going to have to explain why you have a Tinder profile,” he said.
Register, who is divorced and currently not dating, says he isn’t looking for a personal relationship. He’s just looking to match with voters to find out what’s on their minds.
“I have this forum that’s letting women of no filter — every age, race background, family, no family — I’m able to have these back and forth, one-on-one conversations and I’m getting amazing things,” Register said. “The women aren’t responding to me trying to get a date, they’re responding ‘Oh my goodness, this is great.’”
Tinder and politics have had some awkward moments. Former Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who resigned from office in disgrace in June 2011 for lewd online behavior said he inadvertently “liked” a tweet from former Vox Executive Editor Matt Yglesias in June 2014 that read “Tinder will now be the ultimate sext machine.”
Former Hawaii County councilman Greggor Ilagan, a Democrat, took his 2016 state Senate campaign to Tinder, authoring a profile that read: “Hey you! Help me make a positive difference in our community…This year, I am running for State Senate. I bet we can find common ground on issues and make a positive impact around us. Swipe right and let’s get to know each other.”
He lost the Senate race and ditched the Tinder strategy during the campaign because “I was always having to direct people back to the main focus,” he told Honolulu’s Civil Beat in 2016.
“They asked me, ‘Oh, can I have a date?’ And I said ‘Well, we can have a meeting and we can talk about government and maybe you can help out on the campaign,’” Ilagan added.
Register said his Tinder talks have been on point, with women offering comments about the difficulties of bringing a child adopted overseas into the United States and the state of the nation’s health care system.
Register is one of three Democrats running against Adams in a district redrawn in 2016 to encompass most of North Carolina’s Mecklenburg County.
The Charlotte Observer reported that Register and fellow challengers Gabriel Ortiz and Keith Young live outside the district they’re seeking to represent in Washington.
Young is a city council member in Asheville, N.C., more than 130 miles away from Charlotte, and Ortiz lives in the Charlotte portion of the 9th Congressional District where Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-N.C., is seeking re-election.
Register listed his mother’s home in the 9th as his address on campaign filing forms last month.
He insisted that he had been living in the 12th since becoming a candidate, sleeping in a van parked in a Planet Fitness parking lot on Highway 51, just across the district border.
“Last year, I lived in District 12 for the first half of the year and then I went to Spain for the summer and when I came back I stayed with my mother, who is in District 9,” he said. “When I decided to file (to run for office) and I came back, I started staying in a van and my car. Since March 1, every night I have actually stayed in District 12 and I can’t register an address to a van in a parking lot of Planet Fitness.”
Register said he has since moved into an apartment in East Charlotte.
“After months and months, I’m an adult again,” he joked.
Adams, who is running for a second term in the redrawn district, said she’s taking all her primary challengers seriously.
“I’m going to run a good campaign: it’s going to be clean, it’s going to be hard, and it’s going to be fast,” she said. “And we’re going to win.”
Register knows he’s facing long odds of defeating Adams, who has raised more than $209,000, according the latest Federal Election Commission filings.
But he said the Tinder encounters and other meetings with potential voters give him hope.
“I try and we’ll see,” he said.