Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Bloggers and Seth Williams

The Philadelphia Inquirer had an excellent article this morning about the impact of bloggers on the race for District Attorney. Perhaps the most significant thing was the willingness of campaign staff to recognize the contributions bloggers have made.
Williams strategists say they believe the bloggers provide at least a modest counterweight to District Attorney Lynne M. Abraham's power. She is a 14-year veteran who has plenty of campaign cash - but so far no bloggers - and the support of Democratic Party ward leaders.

"The bloggers tend to be leaders," said Ray Murphy, who runs Williams' Internet operation. "I think of them as carrier pigeons spreading the word."

Over the last month, about 70 people have signed up as volunteers on Williams' Web site, most of them encouraged by bloggers, Murphy said. They have joined supporters from several unions to run phone banks and canvass for votes, he said.

In addition, Williams says about 4 percent of the $77,141 he has raised since Jan. 1 has arrived by way of the Internet.

At least 10 Philadelphia-oriented blogs, with a daily readership that the campaign estimates at 3,000, have staged three coordinated "days of action" for Williams. They have urged readers to consider Williams' platform, to volunteer for him, and to file an electronic pledge to vote for him on the candidate's Web site, www.seth4da.com. Some of the bloggers also have filed regular dispatches on the campaign.

Though it seems modest, a national Democratic political consultant who specializes in Internet organizing sees the Philadelphia effort as a beginning. Bloggers in Pittsburgh have been talking up a candidate in the mayoral primary there.

"A lot of national campaigns see the Internet as a glorified ATM machine," said Tim Tagaris, the consultant working to set up Chuck Pennacchio's 2006 U.S. Senate campaign in Pennsylvania. "Regionalization is going to be the next wave," Tagaris said.
I think the most important question we'll be facing in the next couple of weeks is where to go next. We need to make a serious assessment of what blogs did for this race, the money and votes it produced, as well as possibilities in the future. Where next?

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