Yeah, there's a lot of potential in this direction in Illinois (your plan is a little confusing to me, though, because it sounds like you're giving Melissa Bean a lot of the most conservative parts of the 10th district, effectively undoing the gerrymander that put her in office in the first place; also, the parts of IL-11 that are close to Rush and Jackson's districts are unfortunately not the Republican strongholds -- although giving Kankakee county to IL-15 would certainly help matters).
I only hear Hynes called the machine candidate in regard to the 2004 primary, in which it's a fact that he had endorsements from a a huge portion of the Chicago machine. (In fairness, though, it's true that they didn't pull out all the stops for him.)
Madigan got called a nepotism candidate more than she got called a machine candidate, and, frankly, I think that's worse. (Sometimes it's hard to tell nepotistic politics from machine politics in Chicago...)
Lorenzo Sadun, whose work I've always admired in his "day job" capacity as a mathematician, stepped up to run a write-in campaign in this district last time when no Democrat filed on time. I really admired the way he put his all into that thankless task, and I sure am glad that we have a strong candidate on the ballot this time!
By the way, Lorenzo's campaign is a great example of why the "contest every seat" strategy is so important. Strama only won his State Rep. election by about 550 votes, and the Democratic candidate in the 48th (the district subsequently won by Donna Howard in the special election) lost by under 150. It's not hard to imagine how a strong coordinated campaign could have effected those races.
If Gore were drafted into the race by a large base of enthusiastic progressives, it would be kind of suicidal for him to fail to run as a progressive. If, instead, we sit around and wait and he decides to run anyhow, then it becomes much harder to predict. Since, as you point out, his rhetoric of the last few years is at odds with the approach he took when he last ran for office, all bets would be pretty much off.
Considering how far a small number of dollars and volunteer hours can go in state legislative races (particularly in some states), this seems like a place where the blogs could have a massive, massive impact.
Frankly, I think you're right that folks expect stuff to be free and won't want to pay.
But I think I'm missing your point -- you want to buy a fancy call system that somehow handles peoples' questions? I don't know what that would be -- I'm just familiar with the regular free conference calls where everyone gets to talk whenever they want and there are lots of weird awkward pauses followed by moments where everyone tries to jump in at once :)
One thing kept jumping out at me, though. Campaigns don't necessarily spend months ID'ing 1's and then a week turning them out because they can't think of any other way to do field work. They do it because it's really easy for the volunteers.
All of your stuff is hard for volunteers. You touch on this twice, once in the salesman comment and once when you mention something about training. But can you expand on this? Have you thought much about training volunteers to do this stuff? Do they balk at it because it's so "off-script"? Or do you manage to make it adhere to a script? Or do they like it better because it's more interesting and anyhow you're respecting them and people always like feeling respected? (One of my biggest pet peeves about many campaigns is how little they respect voters and volunteers.)
Oh, and is your conference call on ABV gonna happen? If so, let me know daniel.biss at gmail.
Actually, I didn't mean to sound exasperated at you. Of course you have to respond if someone's going to say stuff like that about you. It just seems like a silly waste of time, which has me exasperated at Glover, and, in my weaker moments, at the whole medium.
Anyhow, if you're going to have this argument, it's probably worth pointing out that most "campaigning 101" books and training courses basically tell you that your whole earned media strategy should be based upon the assumption that most journalists are lazy. It's not like you were coming out of left field here...
I think as the list grows we can start to make more bloggy noise and then try to use that to start letter-writing campaigns that will filter up through the media. Let me know if you have any more creative ideas...