New Congress, New Twitter: Your Guide to 112th Twitter Handles

By Katie Kindelan Comment

The swearing-in of new senators and representatives? The reading of the Constitution on the House floor? All the formal flourishes of democracy, for sure, but what’s the real sign that change has come to Washington in this 21st century world? New Twitter handles for our nation’s leaders. Here’s your complete guide to the #112Congress.

Outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was the first to make the change, officially changing her Twitter handle, from @SpeakerPelosi to the slimmed-down @Nancy Pelosi on Tuesday evening, via Twitter, of course.

She did find some silver lining in the change, telling her 30,000 plus Twitter followers: “I’m now @NancyPelosi – 2 characters shorter than @SpeakerPelosi. RTers rejoice!”

And the man who has now taken over the speaker’s gavel, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio), happily assumed the handle @SpeakerBoehner at midnight Tuesday.

Boehner’s communications director, Kevin Smith, noted the change on his account, adding “tcot” to flag the tweet for other conservatives on Twitter: Check it out … @GOPLeader Boehner is now @SpeakerBoehner #tcot.

Boehner’s office also released the personal Twitter accounts of his top staff, presumably for the diehard “tcot”s to follow: Dave Schnittger (@OhSchnitt), Kevin Smith (@KG_Smith), Michael Steel (@michael_steel), Brendan Buck (@Brendan_Buck), Nick Schaper (@NickSchaper), Mike Ricci (@riccimike), Katie Boyd (@KEBoyd), Cory Fritz (@corymfritz), and Don Seymour (@DonSeymour).

Boehner, who has more than 70,000 Twitter followers, is kicking off the new Congress with a renewed focus on social media to reach voters online.

The Speaker’s office now has a Facebook page, a redone website, a Flickr account and a YouTube channel, all laid out on his blog as a guide for “where to connect with Boehner online.”

And, in a Facebook first, the first day’s floor proceedings in the House were broadcast live on the social network as John Boehner was sworn in and delivered his first speech as Speaker of the House.

The attention to social media in this New Year is a sign of the growing influence of the Web in Washington. Nancy Pelosi did not joingAt the beginning of the 111th Congress, Twitter still had a low profile on Capitol Hill among lawmakers, offices and committees, and spokesmen.

Compare that to the present when we have the White House #presssec holding briefings with voters via Twitter and former Speaker Pelosi turning to the site to recall Congress for a brief vote during its recess last summer, quite a move for a leader who tweeted her first Tweet in just May of 2010.

In other #112 and #newmajority Twitter changes, outgoing House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), now the House majority leader, took over Boehner’s old screen name of “GOPLeader,” while Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) assumed Cantor’s “GOPWhip” handle.

On the Democratic side, as of Tuesday night, Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.), the outgoing Majority Whip, still had not changed his “WhipClyburn” title. Outgoing House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), meanwhile, had moved on, as Twitter’s website said Hoyer’s page – under the name “LeaderHoyer” no longer existed.

All top Congressional leaders were expected to transition to new Twitter names in time for the official start of the new Congress. The House operations office is also reportedly working overtime to get the Web sites, web addresses, and Facebook and Twitter pages of this year’s unusually large incoming freshman class up and running by the time Boehner takes his oath.