Candidates with blogs? So 2004. Legislators with blogs? Very au courant. Elected officials are increasingly turning to blogs not only during elections but also in office. A small but growing group are using blogs to engage constituents, discuss issues, and promote their agenda. Interestingly, the legislator-blogger is more likely to be found in statehouses rather than Congress. A quick glance at the National Conference of State Legislature's excellent blog, The Thicket, shows at least 35 different state legislators with blogs. A number almost certain to grow.
Even more striking is the explosion of blogs dedicated to state-level politics and policies. The NCSL blog lists more than 100. The progressive blog, My DD, keeps a running list of links to liberal bloggers covering individual states or regions. The list totals more than 40. The state and national blogs are also developing a symbiotic relationship with stories, news, diaries, and readers being shared.
A few Members of Congress, including Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Louise Slaughter (D-NY), George Miller (D-CA), and John Conyers (D-MI), are regularly contributors on some national blogs. And, certainly, Hill press secretaries understand the value of communicating with bloggers. It is probably only a matter of time before the trend of legislator blogging takes root on the Hill.
The rise of blogs run by elected officials focused on legislating instead of traditional campaigning opens up new opportunities for citizen advocates and grassroots programs. We'll be watching to see what's working. Let us hear your ideas.