Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Wisconsin Bloggers Who Run for Office Bleg

Since a pair of bloggers have announced their intentions to run for local offices, I thought it would be a good time to quickly figure out what kind of record bloggers who decide to run for some kind of office in Wisconsin have -- anyone know?

Since that's kind of an amorphous construction, let's set up some requirements:

1.) The blogger has to have maintained a blog for at least 6 months before announcing his or her candidacy (minimum of 6 posts).

2.) Any office counts. Can be municipal, county, state, federal, dog catcher, coroner ... hell, if anyone knows of a blogger running for senior class student council president, let me know.

Here's a local example of who, so far as I know, would qualify under these conditions. Tony Palmeri has had a blog now for pretty much ever at this point. I'm pretty sure he had one long before he ran for state assembly in 2004 and he certainly had one when he won his seat on the city council. So Palmeri's 1-1.

I'm pretty sure Brian Bain, Mike Norton and Jef Hall all started their blogs after they were elected to their respective positions -- please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong -- so they don't count.

So folks like Jo Eglehoff count, while Mary Lazich and Mark Pocan don't.

That's all I got -- and by those number bloggers are 1-2 when running for office, a number which doesn't exactly look very thorough to me. Feel free to chime in.


Jef Hall said...

I started my blog in 3/2004, announced for Congress in 6/2004 but did not win office until 4/2006 for County Board.

Call it where you will...

Zach W. said...

Dan Cody was a long time blogger before he ran for Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors and lost.

Additionally, if I'm not mistaken Cathy Stepp from Racine was a blogger for a while before she ran for office and won. If I recall, she ran for alderperson in Racine.

Oh, and there's also Fred Dooley of Real Debate fame. If I'm not mistaken he ran for office in Racine but was unsuccessful.

Jb said...

I guess Jef splits with 1-1 and with Zach's contribution to the tally goes to 2-3. Add that to the post's score and I think we're at 3-5.

Dan Cody said...

I think there's a difference to be understood and acknowledged between bloggers who run for office and those who run for office and happen to have weblogs.

Janet Evans said...

People begin blogging for different reasons. I began blogging over a year ago because I had an interest in what was happening in local politics in my city. I have been very involved in those issues. I have two blogs; one local and one national. I blog about local politics on my local blog. I do so to keep transparency in local government, which is lacking in our city. I also blog about general and world topics on the local blog.

I attend school board meetings and city meetings as a citizen and I record, podcast and blog about the information from those meetings.

I believe I am more than qualified to run for school board member and my blogging has been a public service to a small portion of citizens. I wish I could have reached more of them. Serving as a school board member is one way I can do that.

What about you, Chief? What's your story?

Jb said...

There no story here. I made the requirement deliberately thin to cast a wide net, so to speak.

One thing I'm interested in is if prior blogging experience encourages some people to run for office and if it helps or hinders someone's campaign (I'm looking for correlation here, I'll worry about the causation bridge when I get to it).

There are a ton of issues that can be discussed regarding this, and many other related issues, but I don't like conjuring up theories and speculating on motives without some good hard facts to start with. So for now, it's when did candidate x start blogging, when did candidate x announce they were running, did candidate x win or lose.

Jef Hall said...

It is an interesting question...

I think it is pretty obvious that the Foxpolitics blog did a good job of doing the candidate in.

When you have been an opinion blogger and run for office, you in essence 'have a record' just like if you were an incumbent. But, you do not have the name recognition of the incumbent.

So, a blogger running for office really has the worst of both worlds, a record that can be scrutinized and no positive name ID in the general populace. (Sorry to break it to everyone, but most voters do not read blogs...)

I remember the night I won the County Board race, the local commentators (bloggers Palmeri & Miles Maguire) were on the radio and said that I may have beat the sitting member because I was well known and had a popular blog.

The truth is, that I won because I knocked on 800 doors 3 times, sent out 2 mailings of 1000+ each, and lit dropped the entire district the night before the vote with a map of where to go to vote.

...and I won with 210 total votes (small district).

I can guarantee Palmeri, Maguire and the Chief that my blog had very little to do with the race.

When it comes to campaigning, sweat is still necessary.

Don't tell the Republicans...

grumps said...

Over here in the sticks Mason Braunschweig ran Chasing Ambulances In My Sleep for a while before he ran for, and won, a City Council seat. He has since been re-elected and elected as Council President.

Our esteemed elder blogger, Dick Woulfe the Evansville Observer, ran for School Board but fell to a strong slate. He has since declined to run again.

Dan Cody said...

I'd agree 100% with Jef. When I ran I knocked on over 3,000 doors in my heavily urban district and never once did I hear from anyone, "I read your weblog".

Personally, my weblog helps me to think about issues and explain my position on them in a logical manner. I see that as a plus, and numerous times it's helped that I actually wrote about a policy issue so that when I was asked to defend or explain my position on X in a public forum/meeting, I already knew exactly what I was going to say because I'd written about it Y days/weeks/months before.

tony palmeri said...

I've had a website since the early part of this decade, but did not start blogging until late December of 2005. (Not sure why I would have attributed Jef's county board victory to blogging since I'm quite sure very few people in his district read blogs and Jef himself has never really blogged that much. I'll take his word that I said it, but I must have really been having an off night. Sounds like probably the stupidest thing I've ever said.).

My experience is that blogging is actually a hindrance when running for office. It allows the trolling lowlife crowd (of which there are quite a few) to take comments out of context and thus place candidates on the defensive. It also takes away time that should be used for door to door and other type of voter contact. Plus, the overwhelming majority of voters simply don't have time to read blogs. Candidate blogs especially tend to be filled with so much self-serving fluff that they are almost an embarrassment.

I do think that blogs authored by elected officials are more valuable. Bryan Bain, Mike Norton and Jef have always provided useful information on theirs, and I've received lots of positive feedback too (people tell me they most like my summaries of the council meetings and the rationales for my votes.).

Justin Mitchell said...

Note that many people valued the positions offered on Fox Politics before the election run. The site probably served her well before the campaign started, getting her name out beyond Appleton, and providing the leverage necessary to join WPR's talk.

It is obvious though that any public media will hurt when a candidate takes a strong stand on issues vocally (or bloggerly), but then completely changes sides just because they see it to be advantageous during a campaign.

While the lack of any "guts" is quite common among political officials, it becomes significantly more damning in contested races and particularily when widely available online.

Also, Tony, I think we were at a wine tasting event that election night.