Political Hay

Politicians in Pajamas

Mr. Blogger goes to Washington -- and maybe to some local offices near you.

By 4.23.09

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"All the world is a stage," Shakespeare wrote. "And the men and women merely players." Never has that been more true than in the Internet area, with ordinary folks using personal blogs as soapboxes. Some of these bloggers reach huge audiences -- think Daily Kos, the Huffington Post, Michelle Malkin, and Pajamas Media -- while others just write for their small circle of friends. And others still are working to become local political dynamoes.

Jason Bane, for example, founded Colorado Pols, a blog dedicated solely to political news in Colorado. It is the most widely read political website in Colorado, known for its inside information and spunky commenters. According to Rocky Mountain Right, a regional conservative blog, "Bane is a key player in the vaunted 'Colorado strategy' by liberals to turn the state blue in part by using the internet."

During this last election, Bane decided to see if he would have as much luck running for County Commissioner (as a Democrat) as he did operating an informative and snarky political blog. Voters proved tougher customers than web surfers: He was crushed by the incumbent. His blog, though, remains popular.

In Georgia, several bloggers have tried the transition from blogging in their pajamas to hitting the campaign trail. Not yet thirty, Chris Huttman, a Democrat blogger and activist -- aka Chris is Hardcore -- ran against state Rep. Jill Chambers, a Republican known for her energy and questionable campaign tactics. While it was his second campaign and may not be his last, young Huttman has failed to convince voters he can represent their concerns as well as he can blog about them. Chambers will finish her third term in office this year.

Other bloggers have fared better, even if they've set their sights on smaller local prizes. Erick Erickson, another Georgian, better known as the Managing Editor of Redstate, became a member of the Macon city council after his success operating one of the most popular conservative blogs out there. Yet another fellow Georgian, John Heneghan, became a member of the Dunwoody City Council, after he enjoyed success writing about politics on his blog.

More blogger-candidates are to follow in the coming election cycle. Judd Legum, the founder of the liberal-leaning, incredibly popular blog Think Progress, is running for the Maryland state legislature. He said he thought he was the first national blogger to run for political office and wants to "bring the best values of the progressive blogosphere…to the statehouse in Maryland." While Legum's not the first to run, it will be interesting to see if he shares Erickson's success.

Michael Brodkorb has been doing political research for the Republican Party of Minnesota and Republican candidates while operating his personal blog Minnesota Democrats Exposed, one of the most popular political blogs -- on either side of the political aisle -- in Minnesota. This last year, Minnesotans who read his blog recognized his name when he ran for delegate to the Republican National Convention last year, and he was one of the few "average" citizens to make the cut alongside Governor Tim Pawlenty and Senator Norm Coleman. This year, he's running alongside another longtime politico for the position of Deputy Chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota. While it's not an elected office in the traditional sense, it's a position of influence that goes beyond using the keyboard and mouse.

Failures and successes aside, the mere existence of a handful of bloggers testing the transition from cyberspace to political office makes one wonder if more people will try to make writing from an Internet café to ranting in a local state house a habit in cycles to come.

Only time will tell if this becomes a major trend. Until then, we can watch the blogger-pols' trial and error -- while wearing our PJs, just like them.

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About the Author

Nicole Russell writes from Northern Virginia.