Taking to Twitter in the race for Congress

Politicians as a species are verbally robust, but North Coast congressional candidates are flocking to Twitter, the social media site that limits tweets to 140 characters.

Tiffany Ren?, the Petaluma vice mayor, is the undisputed tweeting leader among the eight candidates actively seeking the seat Lynn Woolsey is vacating this year.

Ren? has posted more than 5,200 tweets since May, 2008. And she has more than 1,750 followers on Twitter, the San Francisco-based site launched in 2006 that now claims 100 million active users worldwide.

In second place among Democrats competing in the 2nd Congressional District is Marin activist Norman Solomon, with more than 1,050 tweets and 825 followers.

Establishing a Twitter account is free and easy, with unlimited tweeting capacity and freedom to "follow" or subscribe to the tweets of others.

No one else comes close, and Republican Dan Roberts of Marin County, who has a red, white and blue, stars and stripes backdrop on his Twitter home page, hasn't tweeted once.

Asked by phone if he could respond to a reporter's tweet for this story, Roberts said: "First I'd have to find it."

He's not alone in the Twitter wilderness.

"I didn't know I had a Twitter account," said Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, who is running for re-election in an inland district that includes Santa Rosa.

A staffer said the account was created in case Thompson ever wanted to use it. The seven-term incumbent said he posts to Facebook once or twice a day. But his busy schedule precludes lengthy engagement with Twitter.

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