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KerryEdwards.com auction delayed

Fate of potentially profitable election Web site is up in the air after the highest bidder pulls out.

The fate of the KerryEdwards.com Web site is up in the air after the highest bidder for the potentially profitable domain name pulled out.

Since presidential hopeful John Kerry announced that his running mate would be John Edwards, traffic has surged to www.kerryedwards.com--and so have offers to buy the domain.

Faced with an onslaught of offers and inquiries, Kerry Edwards, owner of the domain name that bears his name, turned the sales process over to Sedo.com, which buys and sells domain names and Web sites.

Sedo received an offer as high as $150,000 before it started its auction July 19. The company used that figure as a starting point for bids. The prospective bidder, however, later dropped out before the July 31 deadline, said Matt Bentley, chief executive of Sedo.

Sedo has since gone back to the dozen "legitimate" bidders and has begun direct negotiations with the parties.

"Most of the serious bidders either bid through a law firm or another representative," Bentley said. "We didn't ask them to disclose what they wanted to do with the site."

Edwards, who runs a bail bonds company in Indiana, created the site to post family pictures. He said he had received several calls from interested buyers both before and after Kerry named the first-term senator and millionaire trial lawyer as his running mate.

"After the Edwards announcement, I got a call from the Kerry campaign. They called to see if I was willing to part with the domain. I told them I had been offered five figures for it, and they declined to do anything further with it," he said. "If I had donated it, maybe I could have worked out a favor to visit Kerry in the White House."

In the days after Kerry announced his running mate, Edwards fielded 40 to 50 offers for his domain name, starting at $1,000 and going into five figures. Traffic to his Web site also jumped to 400,000 in three weeks, compared with his usual three hits a month.

"I thought I could get maybe $15,000 to $20,000 for the site," Edwards said. "But it seems like people are speculating that he'll win, given how much they're offering for the site. If they didn't think he'd win, they probably won't be bidding as much."

While the drama of it all pales in comparison to the controversy surrounding the 2000 presidential election and the ballot recount in Florida, it contained some elements of an intense Republican-Democrat fight.

"I got a couple of calls from people who wanted to buy the site on behalf of the Democrats, but I also got a call from one guy who said he was a staunch Republican and wanted to make sure the Democrats won't get it," Edwards said.

While only a dozen "serious" buyers participated in Sedo's auction, less than the company's initial expectation, Bentley said it does not serve as a proxy to Kerry's presidential appeal.

"You can't use this as a proxy. I think the domain name is specifically tied to what people can do to make a business (out of the Web site) rather than if this candidate is the best candidate," Bentley said.

Sedo expects to finalize the winning bidder in the next couple of days.