Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Point of Clarification

At least one prominent blogger misread the intentions behind my post yesterday on the Tennessee Governor's race in 2010. As a point of clarification, I wasn't talking about issuing an endorsement. I was talking about joining on with a campaign. From the phone calls and e-mails I have received since the post, it appears that most people read the post as it was intended.

As an aside, I would like to write about bloggers endorsing, though. Some people think it's a ridiculous exercise. After all, why should a candidate care if a person who has as few as 200 daily readers (for a small blog) or as many as 350,000 (for a large blog) formally endorses their candidacy? If the issue is exposure, it can be very important for a candidate to have a blogger posting about events, positive stories, and copying press releases. This practice plugs people into campaigns in a way that a bumper sticker (which is another positive campaign tactic) or yard sign (ditto) cannot. So the knock on endorsements certainly can't be on the exposure side of things.

I think the main knock on blogger endorsements - particularly by other bloggers and the mainstream media - is that the blogger really doesn't have the expertise or the knowledge to make an informed endorsement. It's the "Who cares what he/she thinks?" argument. But let's look at that argument from another point of view. Who do you think knows more about Tennessee politics and political issues - A.C. Kleinheider or Dwight Lewis of the Tennessean? Sean Braisted or Marcy Bryant of the Chattanoogan? David Oatney or Jack McElroy of the Knoxville News Sentinel? Angelia or Robert Houk of the Johnson City Press? Yet, all of us - especially bloggers - point to every newspaper endorsement in a contested race like it means something.

After 2006, I have made limited to no endorsements in races. In 2006, I created a questionnaire that several candidates for the 1st District Congressional seat completed and returned. That led to an endorsement, and I still think that's the best way of going about endorsing candidates. If bloggers are going to endorse candidates, I encourage them to go about it in a professional sort of way, even if it means embracing a time intensive undertaking. Get out there and meet the candidates - you'd be amazed at how many of them will join you for some questions over iced tea if you'd just ask.

However, an endorsement is still an endorsement. What I was talking about yesterday was joining a campaign. Although I helped in spots in the various 2008 Tennessee races (and I am quite proud of that work, mind you), I didn't serve on a campaign. That was for various reasons, including helping Angela rebuild her private practice at my firm after she left the worst agency in all Creation, the Tennessee Department of Children's Services. Angela's practice is alive and thriving now, so I don't have such limitations. That is the reason for yesterday's post. It wasn't for an endorsement.

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