Influencer Sparks Backlash Over NJ Election Campaign Joke: 'Tone Deaf'

An influencer has been criticized by followers online after jokingly "running for office" during the recent New Jersey elections.

Vienna Skye is a TikToker with over 1 million followers, but upset some online when she shared a video yesterday claiming that she ran for "office" in East Brunswick. New Jersey held senate and assembly elections this week, along with city council elections.

In her video, Skye put up campaign signs for herself along a busy highway reading "Skye for Office," as she discussed her "campaign."

"I ran for office in my small town in New Jersey and you may be thinking: 'Vienna, what the?'" she said.

"After pacing these signs a few nosey neighbors had something to say, apparently my Instagram isn't very 'councily,'" she added.

A screenshot of a resident's post to an East Brunswick Facebook page expressed confusion over the hot pink signs, and asked if anyone knew about them. The resident added that she googled her and found just her Instagram account, with images that are "not exactly council-ish" pictures.

In just a day, the video has gained over 700,000 views, but was met with criticism. Despite Skye not actually running a campaign in the election, posting the video days after voting, and not being a candidate on the ballot, many found the idea of joking about elections that are vital for some residents to be "tone deaf."

The New Jersey election was a tight one this year with Democrat Philip Murphy becoming governor by just 2 percent, meaning that, for voters on both sides, a lot was hanging in the balance.

In East Brunswick, where Skye lives, voters also voted on a seat up for grabs in Town Council, but the results have not yet been officially announced. Skye however did not appear as an official candidate on the ballot for this, with Republican David Herrera and Dinesh Behal fighting for it.

"Ah yes, treating elections that change people's lives like a joke for content, teehee. So quirky," commented one user.

"Shoulda used your platform for voter outreach regardless of the side, but to turn a very important election into a joke is shameful," wrote another.

"Girl, politics aren't a game," commented one TikTok user.

Even though Skye's "campaign" was simply for the video, "joke" political campaigns and votes have long been looked at in a negative light, but are becoming more and more common.

In 2020. Kanye West received over 60,000 votes. In the U.K., Count Binface is a satirical political candidate created by a comedian who regularly runs in various important elections with outlandish policies and costumes. This year, he received 24,775 votes in the Mayor of London elections.

Newsweek has contacted Vienna Skye for comment.