Thanks to a grass roots coalition of college campuses across the state, UCSB students are only a click away from a visit by California gubernatorial candidate Gavin Newsom.

Exploring technological means as a route to the governor’s desk in Sacramento, Newsom, the current mayor of San Francisco, recently launched a student-run online fundraising competition to rally youth voters. Universities with the greatest number of individual donors and with the most money raised by May 26 will be rewarded with a visit from Newsom.

David Kornahrens, Students for Gavin Newsom college deputy director, said Newsom is one of the few candidates mobilizing his constituents using online technology. Although many candidates have created pages on Facebook and Twitter, Kornahrens said, Newsom is taking his online campaign to another level.

“The awareness of cutting-edge technology allows people to organize and practice democracy in a much more effective and pure way,” Kornahrens, a third-year UCSB student said. “I think that, in this election, we’re going to be shown that when students have access to Facebook and other online tools, we can be just as potent politically as any other voting block out there.”

Brian Cadigan, communications director of UCSB Students for Gavin Newsom, said rallying the support of college students is crucial to winning any campaign. Any candidate who can get a large youth turnout will have a nice lead in the polls, he noted.

“I mean, if there’s anything we’ve learned from the Obama campaign it’s that the youth play a huge role in politics,” Cadigan said. “And if they can become energized and appear at the forefront of a movement, then it will become a successful campaign.”

As Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’sterm rapidly comes to a close, an unofficial list of probable candidates for the spot of governor in November 2010 has surfaced. Candidates include Democratic contenders California Attorney General and former California Gov. Jerry Brown, Sen. Diane Feinstein and Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, as well as Republican hopefuls Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner, businesswoman Meg Whitman and former state Sen. Tom Campbell.

Despite this long list of contenders, Cadigan said Newsom’s unique ability to deliver on promised policies sets him apart from his peers.

“Many candidates can say they’re for universal health care, but he’s actually done that,” Cadigan said. “San Francisco is the only place in the United States with that kind of system. He doesn’t just talk about solutions, he gets things done.”

Among Newsom’s pivotal campaign platforms are the legalization of gay marriage, redoubled sustainability efforts and the importance of higher education.