Local blogs are key to future of politics

Dear Everyone;

In todays electronic media world if you are going to run for election or fight an election or back an initiative or fight an initiative locally or state wide or nationally you have to be wired into the wired world. The article below highlights local blogging with local bloggers to help you accomplish this.

A blogger and how his work helped rally support to fight against Richmond Pombo of Tracy re-election is a good case in point.

If you are planning on running - planning on helping somone to run - initiating an initiative or fighting an initiative this article is a good reminder of one of the key elements your campaign will need.

This is of course with the traditional campaign web sites - youtubes - myface - meetups - email groups - online discussion groups and so on. Plan ahead and plan wisely it'll pay big dividends in campaign message and campaign funds and a winning campaign.

Ron Getty
SF Libertarian



Local blogs are key to future of politics

Joe Garofoli, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, August 4, 2007
(08-04) 04:00 PDT Chicago -- The YearlyKos Convention is attracting national notoriety for how bloggers are changing the political and media landscape. But while the spotlight is shining on a few of the 1,400 online pundits convened here who draw more readers than a lot of daily newspapers, the next frontier of political blogging will be led by people like Phillip Anderson.
Even though his blog gets only about 1,000 visitors a day - about one-five-hundredth as many readers as the DailyKos.com blog, the namesake of the conference.
Nevertheless, the mop-haired New Yorker already has the state party chair asking him for help reaching liberal voters. His allure: Local bloggers can influence the outcome of small elections.
And as more newspapers cut staff and can't cover many of the stories they used to, bloggers who cover local politics have become the de facto watchdog in some communities and over some areas of government. While they see the news through a partisan political lens, their reporting has become a tip sheet for journalists at traditional outlets. Like the recent YouTube/CNN debate that featured questions asked by "real people," the rise of local bloggers is another step in the convergence of old and new media.
Anderson doesn't call himself a citizen journalist or an activist. "It's sort of both," he said, noting that he has "a symbiotic relationship" with mainstream media. "We definitely rely on their (mainstream news outlet) stories, and they're definitely reading us."
The day after Democrats won the midterm congressional election in November, Anderson said to a friend, "Well, the national scene looks OK for now, but our state is really messed up."
So he started TheAlbanyProject.com, a blog dedicated to the interests of his home state. It's part journalism, part activism and wholly progressive. He has a staff of six contributors to this site, and about 30 others who regularly post there. Nobody has quit their day jobs yet, including Anderson, who is a video editor in New York City. He commutes twice a week to Albany.
In January, Anderson heard from Dave Pollak, co-chairman of the New York State Democratic Party. There was a special election coming up in Long Island for a state Senate seat, an election where turnout was expected to be low. Pollak knew blogs like Anderson's are read not only by political junkies but by politicians and their staffs, "so I reached out to the blogs," he said, "because they can get boots on the ground, and that's what the difference is in elections like this." The strategy worked.
Pollak says about $100,000 was raised and 40 people volunteered as a result of blogs spreading the word, "and in a small election, that was one of two or three things that helped us win that seat, which had been in Republican hands for a long time."
Earlier this year, when Anderson and other bloggers threw a "blograiser" (a fundraiser hosted by bloggers) for a state Senate candidate at a New York bar, not only did Pollak get out the word, he got newly elected Gov. Eliott Spitzer to show up.
This relationship is continuing, even though there isn't an election at stake. Three weeks ago, Pollak hosted a meeting of 50 New York state bloggers "just to tell them what we were up to."
There is an understanding: Pollak doesn't expect the bloggers to march in lockstep with what the party wants, and the bloggers have no intention of giving any politician a free pass.
"People asked me why I came to YearlyKos last year to hang out with all those bunny slipper people," said Jay Fawcett, who ran for Congress last year in a heavily Republican district of Colorado. "And I told people, 'It's 1960, and it's the Kennedy-Nixon debate.' Just like people felt about television back then - they said it's going to kill print, it's going to kill radio. But it didn't. I think, soon, people will realize that (blogging) is just another thing you do in a campaign."
Fawcett lost, just as Democrats have done for more than 20 years in his district, but he came closer than most - a feat he attributes to his outreach to local bloggers. "I say if you don't, you do so at your own peril," said Fawcett.
Other major national players agree.
Tom Mattzie, Washington director of MoveOn.org, the 3.3 million-member online activism hub, said smaller bloggers "are going to gain a lot more importance in the upcoming elections."
Here's how: A blogger writes about something going on in his community, say plans for a local development to be built on toxic ground - the kind of story many large newspapers rarely break nowadays. Residents start complaining about the issue at local meetings. Soon, the buzz generated causes the local press and perhaps other larger bloggers to pick up on the issue, and the government is forced to respond to their inquiries.
Something similar happened in the Bay Area. In October 2005, Paul Delehanty, an Oakland resident better known in the liberal blogosphere as Kid Oakland, rallied local progressives to head east through the Caldecott Tunnel to unseat then-Rep. Richard Pombo. Environmentalists had railed against the Tracy Republican for years for his anti-environmental views but had not been able to unseat him.
But many were initially inspired when Delehanty wrote on his blog, "We all live in Richard Pombo's district" - as in the Earth.
"That line got me really motivated," said Eden James, who lives in Alameda and is a fan of Kid Oakland.
So motivated that James volunteered for Jerry McNerney, the Democrat who upset Pombo. Now, James is McNerney's online communications director.