Eric Vessels of Plunderbund aired his second podcast today. It included interviews with Ohio bloggers Chris Baker and Tim Russo (democracy guy) as well as an interview with congressional candidate Bob Shemansky. What follows here is my transcript of Eric’s interview with Chris.
Eric:These segments are about other Ohio bloggers, giving them the opportunity to learn a little bit more about some of the blogs out there and some of the people that blog. So you blog as Editor at Ohio 2nd blog.
Yours is actually one of the first blogs that I read when I first got active in reading and then eventually I started Plunderbund, because I was really following the Hackett stuff. When did you start the blog?
Chris: I purchased the domain in April–this is very important for bragging rights–there’s a couple of people all taking credit for the whole Hackett phenomenon.
Chris: I have to officially state: it was April 16 was the date I bought the domain, and started blogging May 17, which was the first candidate’s forum, and the first time Hackett spoke with the other candidate.
Eric: Right, cool. Very cool. And you were one of the ones that pretty much everybody followed for the Hackett stuff, and then, of course, lots of other people started blogging about it. What is your focus? You started the Ohio 2nd blog to focus obviously on that special election–and now is your focus just that congressional district?
Chris: The goal wasn’t to focus on the special election– I’ll be honest, I got really really lucky that Paul Hackett came along at the exact same time as I started blogging on the district. Because otherwise I’d be kind of chugging along in anonymity as Mr. Nobody. It was a great coincidence that he was there at the time, and that really helped what little traffic I did get. But the concept wasn’t really to blog on the 2nd special election. The idea basically came from frustration over the 2004 election–
Eric: Oh, wow–that’s a familiar tune!
Chris: –and my feeling that everybody was focussing on the strongest link in the chain, which was George Bush, and the tactics were all wrong. We were letting the house, which to me is the most powerful branch of government…Congress is the most powerful branch and the House as an entity has the most control over what really happens with the federal government.
Chris: And so you’ve got this incredibly powerful institution that no one ever really pays attention to, because everyone’s complaining about George Bush. Meanwhile, everyone in there has to run for re-election every two years, they’re incredibly unpopular,
Chris: –they’re incredibly vulnerable, and yet they win by overwhelming majorities time and time again. Why? Because they’re ignored. And so my rule is, I don’t think about Bush, I don’t talk about Bush, I don’t worry about Bush. I don’t care about John Kerry, I don’t give a darn who runs for president–I completely ignore that race and focus on little Jean Schmidt and Bob McEwen and the cast of characters that are the local 2nd Congressional District.
And I bring the same kind of heat–we’ve got thousands of people hammering George Bush and we’ve got this wonderful echo chamber of, pointlessness, in my opinion–
Chris: So, make it personal to Jean Schmidt–make it personal to her. And the thing about me is, I walk into a room for an event in the 2nd district, and Jean Schmidt’s right there. There’s no blogger that’s going to walk into a room with George Bush. I mean, I get the icy stares right from her. I post, and I get responses from her campaign within 15 minutes.
Chris: So, that kind of direct relationship with what’s going on on the ground with the local parties and the local people gives it a lot more sense of reality than what you would get from covering national presidential races.
Eric: Sure. And I think we’ve seen a few other regional- and congressional district-only blogs pop up, and if we hold true to your model, that’s going to be a very powerful thing moving forward.
Chris: Right. I’m seeing a lot of that happening. The rules are very vague, there are some blogs cropping up and you can’t figure out quite what their agenda is–there’s no real written game plan. So, it’s interesting to see how it kind of gels.