Carolina In My Mind
As someone who contributes to a state progressive blogosphere, it's heartening to see some of my counterparts across the country doing so well. I wish that California had leaders who understood the power of the progressive movement the way that North Carolina doews, for example. This report by Matt Stoller is really something that's nice to see.
I don't know what they put in the water in NC, but the state establishment here is the most blogger-friendly in the country. The party headquarters is a beautiful and historic building, and the party chairman, Jerry Meek, has read and commented on blogs for years. He's a grassroots organizer at heart, and has terrific relations with everyone in North Carolina Democratic politics. He's pushing county parties to have websites, and to connect with members over email. It's not just Jerry - Congressman Brad Miller actually blogs on a fairly regular basis, commenting all over the place (including here) with useful and interesting comments.
Both Jerry and Congressman Miller recognize blogging for what it is and why it's important. It's not just another broadcast medium, it's a public space for activists to congregate and do the work of politics. It's not the only place for that to happen, but it's the most public, visible, and open place.
The work of places like Blue NC and other blogs in the Tar Heel State could be very significant in 2008, not only in the Presidential election but in the Senate race against Elizabeth Dole. CQ Politics has put out their first set of Senate ratings, and I was surprised to see Dole listed as "Republican Favored," a soft rating in the same territory as obvious targets like John Sununu in New Hampshire and Norm Coleman in Minnesota.
I guess it makes some sense. Dole did a miserable job in a leadership position last cycle as head of the NRSC, getting completely swept out, losing six seats and the Senate. Her legislative record is undistinguished, and her voting record lines right up with the right wing of the party. A recent poll in the state showed that Democratic Governor Mike Easley would beat Dole in a head-to-head matchup. Easley has said he doesn't want to run, but such a poll could be enticing. And if John Edwards is the nominee, the coattails in the state may help.
Plus, North Carolina appears to be trending purple. Heath Shuler picked up a seat in 2006, and Larry Kissell came within a couple hundred votes of doing the same (he's running again). The Raleigh-Durham area and the Research Triangle is becoming more affluent and more sophisticated, and that's the Democratic heart of the state. And with Bush ruining the Republican brand, North Carolina is becoming a target state in the future. We're not going to flip the whole South at once, but states like Arkansas and Virginia and North Carolina have shown movement over the past few years. Chipping away at that Republican base while consolidating gains in the Midwest and on the coasts, and aggressively going after the Mountain West, is a very good plan moving forward. The 50-state strategy is working, and progressive blogospheres are providing valuable support. I hope that California can catch up to the great work being done in places like North Carolina.