why Howie Klein is a netroots hero

Bumped from the diaries -- Jonathan. I wholly agree with KO that we need to keep the focus on specific races and try to shift as many close races as possible to help turn the House and Senate this fall.

One thing that folks who took a close look at the links in a challenge to the netroots may have noticed is that one blog popped up with informative articles about vulnerable GOP Congressional incumbents time after time. That result is no accident.

Now, that blog is Down with Tyranny. Down with Tyranny is a blogspot group blog based in Southern California led by a blogger who goes by the handle Down with Tyranny (his co-blogger is keninny). In real life, Down with Tyranny's name is Howie Klein and, as many of you well know, he's been running an excellent series about progressive candidates on firedoglake that goes under the header Blue America and features a powerful ACTBlue page.

This essay will explain not simply why Howie is a netroots hero, but also what we in the netroots might learn from how he blogs...

When Howie writes about a race, he gets involved, and in doing so, he gets us involved.

Take this August 11th entry on Democratic candidate John Hall's efforts to unseat GOP Congresswoman Sue Kelly in New York's 19th Congressional district (NY-19). Howie brings us into the race by introducing us to a local blogger...Helen...who recently attended a candidate meeting in the district. He's got a picture of Helen with John Hall right there. (As you can guess from me...local blogger = good.) Typical of Howie, the piece is chock full of links:

  • to a previous DwT piece on John Hall's campaign

  • to an ACTBlue page where you can contribute

  • to a previous piece about local blogger Helen and (NY-19)

  • and a link to an organization called Do More than Vote

  • my only gripe is how the link to John's campaign is buried in previous piece.

    That's a lot of useful links. Those links, whether we use them or not, significantly strengthen Howie's case. Further, Howie's blog post also explicity mentions concrete reasons to support John Hall and oppose Sue Kelly:

  • John Hall supports Murtha's withdrawal plan

  • John Hall is for universal health care and reproductive rights

  • John Hall is an environmentalist

  • John Hall was just endorsed by the Teacher's Union, NYSUT

  • Sue Kelly supports Bush's Iraq war across the board

  • Sue Kelly supported the GOP bankruptcy bill

  • Sue Kelly tabled the Abramoff investigation

  • Sue Kelly has accepted tons of PAC money from corporate interests who don't share the interests of her consituents

  • If you needed reasons to get excited and informed about the race in NY-19, where we have a legitimate shot of picking up a seat, Howie and Helen gave them to you. If you had questions about specifics, you got them. If you wanted more links...specifically links that showed you how to get involved or give money...those links were there. Typical for Howie, this blog post answers the who, what, where, when and why so thoroughly...and so effortlessly...that, in my view, Howie Klein is a role model for what it means to be an effective blogger.

    Howie gets local. Howie gets specific. And in the process, he makes sure that politics is not a chore. Even the use of that picture gets us involved. When you read one of Howie's blog posts, he's given you the tools and motivation to do something: and that something is usually kicking out a vulnerable GOP incumbent.

    In my view, that's why he's a netroots hero. (For more examples of Howie in action try these links here and here.)

    Now, let me step back from that encomium and apply it for a second. I mean Howie's well-known. He's on firedoglake. He's a former record producer who uses music to support his cause. He's tireless. How does his example relate to the vast majority of us in the netroots? (Well those of us who aren't writing on the front pages of blogs like MyDD, SwingstateProject or Dailykos where getting people excited about local races is part and parcel of the job year round.)

    Well, if you ask me, Howie's example is relevant to us in the netroots.


    Constructive criticism

    Please allow me to offer some constructive criticism for one second. We in the netroots are often just way too generic. We talk about DC Dems. We talk about the mainstream media. We gripe about the GOP Congress.  (Yes, that's me...guilty as charged and vague as hell.) We rail on the press...hell, we rail about each other sometimes. When we do get specific, it tends to be about the latest outrage and not about what we can DO to take out country's political system back.

    Too often, we bloggers don't answer the questions of who, what, why, when and where in ways that could empower folks to get inolved. We don't provide the critical information and links. I guess I'd put it this way: oftentimes, we are so focused on complaining about the effects of the GOP stranglehold on Congress, the Presidency, our Courts and our Statehouses that we don't write strategically about the specific elections and races where we can win them back.

    When we talk about Congressional races, however, we need to mention specifics so that any reader can take our pieces and run with it.  It's not enough to say, "let's support Patricia Madrid"...though that, of course, is to the well and good. We need to say let's support Democrat Patricia Madrid in NM-01 in her fight to defeat Republican Congresswoman Heather Wilson.  (We need to mention the id and location of her race, link to her campaign, and link to a local blog that is covering it, especially an opposition piece about her opponent.)

    I'm not saying that we need to write like robots, far from it. But, let me be clear, there are some guidelines that can make our writing about local races more effective in the home stretch.  Many of the following are old  hat to readers here, but I've created this list because it never hurts to reiterate the obvious:

  • provide useful links (and if you don't know how to make a link, follow that link!)

  • write clear descriptions of the candidate you support or oppose including name and party affilliation

  • use the formula (MN-01) or (OH-11) to describe Congressional disctricts

  • include compelling, concrete reasons to support your candidate

  • include compelling, concrete reasons to oppose the GOP incumbent

  • give reasons why you personally are excited about this race

  • provide a link to someplace where a reader can volunteer for your candidate

  • provide a link to someplace where readers can donate money

  • if you can, cover local meetings with photos

  • if you can, cover the local press and write serious and informed pieces

  • if you can, use a political networking tool or amplify your message on a regional blog near you

  • if you're writing on MyDD or Dailykos, tag your entry with the ID of your race...and put that tag in your favorites bar so you can follow what others have written.  (One of the most powerful and least used aspects of the dkos interface is that you can subscribe to its Tags on an RSS feed.)
  • When we are fighting local GOP incumbents it's not enough to throw up a comment on one of the national blogs and call it a day.  We need to coordinate our writing within the local grassroots.  We need to link up with the other folks who are covering that race and that's what getting specific and local does. People pay attention to specificity in a way that they just don't to generics. Further, people in the districts where we are running against vulnerable GOP incumbents use google and technorati too. The local press loves the low-hanging fruit of already gathered information and links, and as this election season heats up, more than any other time of the year, they will be reading our blogs.

    Now, I've come out strong for locally-focused blogging. For many of the savvy readers and bloggers here on MyDD, I know this is old news. However, I am going out on a limb and re-stating the obvious because it pays to reiterate, as crunch time approaches, that there's a difference between blogging that's foggy and generic, and blogging that is specific, focused and empowering.


    Resource list of vulnerable Republicans and worthy Democrats

    For those of you interested in picking a local race and writing about it from now till election day here is, once again, a list of races where your input can make a difference broken down by region. The name links are to google blog searches of the names of the candidate or incumbent. Google blog search is a potent tool that can link you what others in the netroots have been writing about a race. The TAG links are to MyDD articles on those races. (ie. You can use this list to track the hot Congressional races here on MyDD.) It's my hope that you use these links to gather more information and to hook up with local blogs that are taking the fight to the GOP.

    Western Region:

  • Heather Wilson (GOP Incumbent, NM-01, opposed by Democrat Patricia Madrid)

  • David Reichert (GOP Incumbent, WA-08, opposed by Democrat Darcy Burner)

  • Jon Porter (GOP Incumbent in NV-03)

  • Jack Carter (Dem, US Senate, NV)

  • JD Hayworth (GOP Incumbent, AZ-05)

  • Ed Perlmutter (Democratic Candidate CO-07 Open Seat)

  • Elton Gallegly (GOP Incumbent, NM-01)

  • Debra Bowen (Democratic Candidate for California Secretary of State)

  • Ted Kulongoski (vulnerable Democratic Governor of Oregon)

  • Gabrielle Giffords, Patty Weiss and Jeff Latas (Democrats running for the open seat in AZ-08)

  • Dennis Rehberg (GOP incumbent Montana At Large)

  • David Dreier (GOP, CA-26, lean GOP district, tough one)

  • Jim Ryun (GOP, KS-01) or, the longer shot effort by Dem John Doll in KS-02(h/t Scout Finch).

  • Midwestern Region:

  • Mark Kirk (GOP Incumbent in IL-10)

  • Deborah Pryce (GOP Incumbent in OH-15)

  • Pat Tiberi (GOP Incumbent OH-12)

  • Joseph Knollenberg (GOP incumbent MI-09)

  • Claire McCaskill (Democratic Candidate for US Senate, MO)

  • Tom Latham (GOP, IA-04)

  • Amy Klobuchar (Democratic Candidate, US Senate, MN)

  • Gil Gutknecht (vulnerable GOP incumbent, MN-01)

  • Chris Chocola (vulnerable GOP incumbent IN-02)

  • Bruce Braley (Democrat running for the open seat in IA-01)

  • Paul Ryan (GOP, WI-01, tough one)

  • Thaddeus McCotter (GOP, MI-11, another tough one)

  • Steve Chabot (GOP Incumbent in OH-01)

  • Eastern Region

  • Curt Weldon (a vulnerable GOP incumbent in PA-07, opposed by Joe Sestak)

  • Jim Walsh (below-the-radar GOP incumbent in NY-25)

  • Frank LoBiondo (GOP incumbent in NJ-02 feeling the heat now)

  • Jim Saxton (GOP, NJ-03)

  • Paul Hodes (running against GOP incumbent Charlie Bass, NH-02, h/t Miss Laura)

  • Tim Murphy (GOP, PA-18)

  • John McHugh (GOP, NY-23)
  • Charles Dent (vulnerable GOP incumbent, PA-15)

  • Deval Patrick (Dem Candidate, Governor MA, h/t dnta)

  • Nancy Johnson (vulnerable CT incumbent GOP Congresswoman, CT-05)

  • John Bonifaz (Dem voting rights champion for MA Secretary of State)

  • Jeb Bradley (NH-01, another vulnerable notheastern GOP incumbent)

  • Phil English (under-looked at GOP incumbent in PA-03)

  • Melissa Hart, (GOP incumbent in PA-04)

  • Shelley Moore-Capito (the GOP West Virginian Congressperson, WV-02, deserves our attention)

  • Southern Region

  • CW Bill Young (GOP incumbent in FL-10)

  • Clay Shaw (GOP, getting a run for his money in FL-22)

  • Robin Hayes (GOP incumbent, NC-08 v Dem Larry Kissell)

  • Democrat Jim Webb v. GOP George Allen for US Senate in VA (h/t Delicate Monster)

  • MZM encrusted Republican Congressman Virgil Goode in VA-05

  • Charles Taylor (GOP incumbent in NC-11, hot race)

  • Mike Rogers (little known GOP Congressman in AL-03)

  • Thelma Drake (a GOP incumbent in VA-02 who I really hope gets some attention)

  • And three longer shots....Erik Fleming, (Dem Candidate for US Senate in MS)

  • Steve Sinton (Democratic Candidate for Congress, Georgia)

  • Anne Northup (the incumbent GOP Rep from KY-03, more Conservative than district by a mile)

  • Tags: Blue America, Howie Klein, local blogs, local races, netroots, NY-19 (all tags)



    Re: why Howie Klein is a netroots hero

    I agree whole-heartedly -- what Howie does on DWT is great (and not just because he's picked out mine).

    One way to get away from the "idle bitching" you mention involves the DC consultants who keep losing. Why not keep a list, so progressive candidates know not to hire them?

    Anyway, I think it's great how Howie picks out a race and immerses himself in it, and I think his list is a good place to start looking for ways to expand the playing field on the GOP (hint hint). If people are saying 40 democratic challenges are already competitive, we should pick the next 40 who didn't make that cut and try to make those competitive too. Let's not sell ourselves short by just focusing on the races that the "conventional wisdom" thinks are close.

    by msnook 2006-08-15 06:07PM | 0 recs
    Re: why Howie Klein is a netroots hero

    Thanks very much for writing about me. I'm a little shy about this kind of thing and when I was in the music business I stopped reading any press about myself-- but the headline is amazing. AND... more important, I want to invite anyone who reads this to a special Blue America session tomorrow. Normally we do them at 2PM (Eastern) on Saturdays. Last week we did Dave Mejias, the progressive Nassau County legislator who will be retiring the odious Peter King (NY-03) in November and next Saturday we're doing Doctor Victoria Wulsin, someone who can actually live up to the legacy of her friend and advisor, Paul Hackett, when she takes on Mean Jean Schmidt (way beyond odious).

    BUT... because we now have more candidates saying they'd like to come on for a blog session than there are Saturdays between now and the election, we're starting to schedule some for other days. And tomorrow (Wednesday) is our first-- and a worthy candidate it is-- a genuine working class hero: Congressman Sherrod Brown. We want to do all we can to help Sherrod dislodge the rubber stamp fake-moderate Republican who holds what should be a Democratic Senate seat in Ohio. So please come on over to Firedoglake tomorrow at 5:30 PM (Eastern time) to meet Sherrod. Bring some questions for him; he's very fast on his feet.

    Meanwhile, please give a listen to the campaign theme song Rickie Lee Jones and a couple of the Squirrel Nut Zippers did for Blue America. It's not for sale-- just for free download.

    by DownWithTyranny 2006-08-15 06:19PM | 0 recs
    Re: why Howie Klein is a netroots hero

    And thank you for focusing on NY-19 race KO.

    Sue Kelly has been a complete failure for the Hudson Valley and has aligned herself right next to Bush.  

    Here are some of the ways she voted for Bush.

    I posed them in a question to everyone.  People need to ask their present Congress Person why they were voting against the People and with Bush.  

    Howie Klein has opened my eyes to races around this country.  I hold a lot of respect for him.  I also have a warm place for him, being that he grew up in Roosevelt, not too far from my stomping ground.

    by Lizzy 2006-08-16 04:12AM | 0 recs
    Re: why Howie Klein is a netroots hero

    Howie Klein is certainly my hero! I'm just disappointed that we didn't have him on hand to dj the Lamont Primary night party!

    When Howie was looking at IL races, I really appreciated the way he approached those of us in the IL States Project group for genuine local input ...and then actually listened to that input ... and then he got us all re-energized about our local races.

    Thanks Howie!

    by siun 2006-08-15 07:17PM | 0 recs
    Re: why Howie Klein is a netroots hero

    I was doing some late night research, which I do every night, and came upon this post.  I have to tell you that not only is Howie Klein a netroots hero, but in the middle of all his work he took  the time to walk me through learning to raise money for candidates.  I would have been lost in that world.  I've been on the web longer than most people, though mainly writing for others. Anyway, I can't say enough good things about Howie Klein.  

    by Taylor Marsh 2006-08-15 11:17PM | 0 recs
    thanks Jonathan

    I appreciate that.  Howie's earned it.  And maybe a few more folks will get turned on to the power of tags!

    by kid oakland 2006-08-15 11:42PM | 0 recs
    Re: why Howie Klein is a netroots hero

    At least for the state I know best the list of competetive races couldn't be more wrong about the races to track.  

    He lists NJ-02 (Lobiondo) and NJ-03 (Saxton) as having vulnerable Republicans, but neither race is competetive.  

    The only truly competetive race in NJ is NJ7, Mike Ferguson who is being challenged by Assemblywoman Linda Stender.  Others may get swept in, but this is one that could be won on its own.

    This is not to say folks shouldn't blog about NJ-02 and NJ-03 and try to make the districts more competetive, but just to critique the list.  

    Does anyone from another state question the list?

    by nathan 2006-08-16 03:07AM | 0 recs
    Re: why Howie Klein is a netroots hero

    Nathan, my analysis jibes with yours. Unless the magnitude of the tsunami is beyond what anyone even dreams, Ferguson is probably the only endangered NJ incumbent this year. And the fact that he's got such an outstanding opponent in Stender should help push him along to the obscurity he's earned.

    by DownWithTyranny 2006-08-16 05:32AM | 0 recs
    Good points...

    I didn't include the race to dump Mike in NJ-07 because it's already being blogged extremely well and Linda Stender, like Tester for MT-Sen and Lamont in CT...has "A-list" attention.

    However, I take local input very seriously.  Because the local blog attention to LoBiondo and Saxton can only work to our benefit in 2006 and 2008, I'll keep them in my sights for local blog attention. But I'll make sure to include the A-list races like NJ-07 in future iterations of this list.  I think people are  hungry for that.

    Thanks for the input.

    by kid oakland 2006-08-16 07:53PM | 0 recs
    Re: Good points...

    P.S. You rock! Great blog out there in the hinterlands of California.

    by nathan 2006-08-19 01:39PM | 0 recs
    The DeLay Effect

    Nice post, k/o.

    For any of you who are looking for ammo to help oust a Republican, here's a nice breakdown of Reps who have donated to Tom Delay's Legal Defense Fund.

    DeLay's LDF Contributors

    Let's hope that tying them to DeLay will give people something to think about.

    Rip -

    by Ripley 2006-08-16 04:19AM | 0 recs


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