Brian Leon just wrote an insightful piece on netroots activism over at his blog. He used Alabama Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidate Loretta Nall as his case-in-point. He clearly understands the mechanics of Internet activism, as provided here:
Netroots political support in elections is becoming more important now. Originally just mere commentary pages on the state of local and national elections, coalescing communities like on Daily Kos or Red State or noted political pundits like Atrios can rally support behind a candidate and provide a conduit for funding and logistical support from all across the nation. Through constant blogging of commentary and event notifications, they can heighten a candidate’s profile to the point that traditional media, which people still get most of their information from, start to notice a candidate and increase the awareness of the candidate throughout the community.
His timing couldn’t have been better, as Loretta Nall hit the mainstream media the previous day specifically because of her Internet activities. As a result of her Flash for Cash campaign, Nall was a guest on the Alan Colmes Show last night. She was also the number one search on Technorati’s blog ranking service. MS-NBC covered Nall’s Internet campaign yesterday on national television.
Nall missed watching the television coverage and we can’t find it on the MS-NBC site, Google News, or with a LexisNexis search. We believe she was covered on Alison Stewart’s “The Most” between 3 and 3:30 PM EST. However, we do have two accounts of the coverage provided. The first came from an e-mail of a mutual friend and colleague in the drug policy reform movement. Here’s her take:
MSNBC just did a piece on you by the senior producer on how influential your website has been on the debate on the drug policy debate!!!! I’m watching it in the bank and you got a couple of smiles in support.
Another view of the coverage is a consolidation of cell phone calls both Nall and I received.
They covered Loretta’s campaign for governor on television, talking about her website, fundraising campaign and the controversy surrounding it.
As near as we can tell, they covered her Technorati position, several of her websites, and this more critical view of her campaign.
Since Leon was absolutely correct about Internet exposure leading to a greater level of MSM coverage, let’s take a look at his next few sentences:
However, it is too easy to say that netroots candidacy can be sustained by the Internet alone. Tried and true methods of getting out the vote still are important.
Leon is still correct. If you don’t believe me, just ask Howard Dean.
Nall will definitely appear as a refreshing contrast to the other candidates. Yet, she is not officially on the ballot as she requires 42,000 signatures to be turned into the state’s election board to qualify. If she does acquire that many signatures and holds onto them through the November election then she has already made an impression on the state’s political structure.
Nall still needs a large chunk of signatures over the next four weeks to get on the ballot. She’s facing a problem I’ve faced before: Marjuana activists don’t contribute money (or meaningful volunteer time) at nearly the same rate that people do for economic or other issues. It would seem a shame to see the media she has already obtained and is likely to continue to obtain be wasted because she ran $10,000 or $20,000 short on a ballot access drive.
In addition to the signatures being collected on the ground, we’ve got professional petitioners ready fly into the state on a moment’s notice and have completed general plans for a last-minute ballot access push.
Nall could use your support right now — and in some cases is willing to pay for it. At the top end, if you have access to high-level donors, phone lists, telecommunications or mailing resources, etc. — please contact Loretta Nall to see how you both might be able to benefit from some mutually beneficial business relationship. If you have a blog or e-mail list, please spread the word about Loretta’s campaign. And all of us can afford to donate just a few more dollars to place her on the ballot.
Leon concluded with:
There may be a time soon when independent candidates like Loretta Nall can bypass the institutional structures of politics and start building a candidacy through communities on the Internet. It may become a more personal process and definitely one that potentially could be more informative. This movement will go hand in hand as people start looking to the Internet as providing them their news and opinions.
In the meantime, we aren’t there yet. Loretta could use your help.