A Facebook faceoff

State Rep. Mark Cohen hasn’t racked up 40 years in the Pennsylvania legislature by taking his political opponents lightly.

When he heard that Numa St. Louis, 31, an Olney educator, was planning a run against him this spring, Cohen discovered they were both Facebook devotees — St. Louis with more than 700 friends, Cohen with more than 5,000.

Not only that, St. Louis had created a campaign page — Team Numa — and many of Cohen’s colleagues in the state House were listed as Numa’s friends.

“They might have agreed to be Facebook friends, but they were not supporters of his candidacy,” Cohen said. “He’s included people on his page who are very strong supporters of mine....This thing is fraudulent.”

Cohen started a campaign of his own, urging his allies to get themselves off St. Louis’ page.

“I called them, I sent them Facebook messages, I also talked to them in person,” said Cohen, 62, ranking Democrat on the House Human Services Committee and a Castor Gardens resident. “I’m a candidate for reelection, and I take that seriously.”

St. Louis, a former public schoolteacher and counselor whose most recent job was working with homeless families at Travelers Aid Family Services, called Cohen’s actions “pretty childish.”

St. Louis acknowledged that an intern on his staff had moved friends from his personal Facebook page onto his campaign page, without their advance permission.

“Anybody who opts not to be part of it is perfectly OK,” he said. “I think it’s unfortunate that Mr. Cohen is spending so much time on Facebook when he should be focusing more on issues facing the district.”

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