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E-diplomacy guru seeks elected office

Alec Ross -state

A former adviser to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on innovation and a pioneer in the field of e-diplomacy is seeking the Democratic nomination in the 2018 race for governor of Maryland.

Alec Ross served in the State Department in the first half of the Obama administration, departing in March 2013 not long after John Kerry took over as the nation's top diplomat. While at State, Ross was a leader in the agency's "21st Century Statecraft" initiative and also pushed the Civil Society 2.0 program, a grassroots effort to help organizations worldwide tap into the power of the internet to promote good government.

Ross is the author of the book "The Industries of the Future" and is a frequent commentator on the digital future and e-diplomacy.

At a 2014 event hosted by Politico, Ross noted that people in the middle ranks of government lacked the right incentives to engage on social media.

"What I've seen over the last five or six years is that when people do open up on social media, if anything gets close to the line, they just get whacked by the press," he said then. "People inside government are more cautious than perhaps they should be ... because if they ever try to engage a little more authentically, they put themselves at risk for getting crushed in the press and therefore by their bosses."

Ross himself is active on Twitter, where he boasts 369,000 followers.

So far, Ross is the only declared Democratic candidate in the 2018 race, although more are expected to join. Ross is leveraging his tech background in his campaign. One of his campaign promises is to provide computer science and coding classes for all public school children by the age of 10.

"Talent is everywhere but opportunity is not. That needs to change," he said.

Ross wouldn't be the first government techie to try a hand at electoral politics. Former federal CTO Aneesh Chopra ran and lost in the 2013 primary to be Virginia's lieutenant governor.

Posted by Aisha Chowdhry on Apr 27, 2017 at 1:36 PM


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