Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Preparing For 2008

by Kyle Michaelis

by: Dave Sund

So, my first couple of posts here are going to be along these lines: what we're doing, where we're going, etc. I'm pretty excited about the possibilities of this website, and I feel that there's a lot of things we can do that we just couldn't do before.

In 2006, the amount of attention paid to the races by our Nebraska blogosphere virtually mirrored the amount of coverage it got in the media. Jim Esch got a couple of mentions by Kyle, and I wrote a couple of diaries that got a few comments at Daily Kos, but for the most part, he didn't get much publicity even from the folks who were paying attention. Maxine Moul's campaign had a few problems getting media attention (the cookie-cutter campaign certainly didn't help), and didn't really distinguish herself. And there wasn't a mention of lower-ballot races. The vast majority of the focus from the two major progressive sources at the time was on Scott Kleeb and Ben Nelson, with David Hahn thrown in there for good measure.

The reason for this? The limitations of the platform. Major media sources were saturated with Nelson vs. Ricketts, so it was pretty hard to ignore. As the summer months came, more and more progressives fell in love with Scott Kleeb as a candidate. One blogger can only do so much.  Which is why this is such a tremendous opportunity for growth, not only in the ideas and nature of Nebraska's progressive blogosphere, but in the progressive movement as a whole for this state. Instead of just Kyle, or Ryan, or myself, we have an entire community at our disposal. If there's a story out there that you feel isn't getting attention: bring it to our attention. If there's a candidate out there that needs our support, or if you are that candidate, post a diary. The best thing about this new platform is that you can contribute a great deal to the discussion. Strength in numbers.
For the past several months, I've had a laser focus on the U.S. Senate race, and I have, on more than one occasion, called it the single most important race in 2008 in Nebraska. But that is not to say that the other races are not important, and that's part of the point: we have an opportunity to look at the whole board, and shine a spotlight on races that might not get much attention otherwise.

Our near-misses in 2006 should not be viewed as failures or aberrations, but as a sign of what can be done. Scott Kleeb fell short in a district where no one gave him a chance at all. But instead of writing this district off, and giving the seat to Adrian Smith for life, Democrats like Lisa Hannah of Smith Watch decided to get active, and hold Smith accountable. And though nothing is official, Scott Kleeb strongly hinted last week to the Yearly Kos Convention in Chicago that he is eying a rematch against Smith.

There's the energy that came with Jim Esch's campaign, a desire for real change that fell just short. A cynic or an outsider could see that as a triumph of money in politics, but the reality is that the grassroots took a candidate with no money, no name recognition, an inexperienced staff, and a completely unconventional campaign strategy and propelled him to a better finish than anyone in this district had in about a decade. Can we capture the same energy with a different candidate? Time will tell, but I sincerely hope that we don't have to worry about it. Because Jim Esch is exactly the type of person who should represent us in Congress.

The greatest opportunity for growth, though, comes in the way we cover the races for legislature. Even in the local media, there is very little in the way of coverage. There's little reason why we can't devote time to covering legislative races, now that we have the platform.

In 2008, we are losing longtime veterans of the unicameral. But in their place we are beginning to see young, progressive individuals step up to answer the call. It's my hope that in the next several months, we can tell the story of all of our candidates, young and old alike.

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