Friday, September 28, 2007

Local Politics, Web Money

The role money plays in not only national politics but also local politics. I saw this past municipal elections how the alderman often got a lot more money to either run or maintain their elective offices. The results are somewhat mixed, those with money won their races and some with money lost their races.

Well I've always been uncomfortable with money in politics. It seems those with the money to burn aren't doing the one thing that's really important in politics (or at least should be important) and that's to put out your platform your vision for what you plan to do if you're elected. Of course as seen in the gubernatorial contest last year the incumbent governor used his big war chest to hammer his opponent who didn't have much money to play with to combat those negative ads.

Well I wanted to point this article out to you. Still Illinois centric but interesting. I wonder if the internet could level the playing field for fundraising. From the Wall Street Journal...
Presidential candidate John Edwards has long been one of the top money-raisers at Democratic fund-raising site But, for a short time recently, he was almost surpassed by Daniel Biss, a 30-year-old mathematics professor running for the Illinois state legislature.

The Biss phenomenon illustrates another way the Internet is shaking up politics and changing the way races are run this year: online fund raising is now filtering down to low-dollar state and local races, where a little bit of extra money goes further than it would in a national race.

"It just seemed like a natural choice. You set up a site and two hours later you're there," says Mr. Biss, who teaches at the University of Chicago. "The opportunity is so much greater at the local level where the impact is so much greater."

So far, Mr. Biss has raised $37,148 online for his bid to win a Republican-held seat representing the north Chicago suburbs -- a figure pumped up in part by an appeal from one of Mr. Biss's friends, who vowed to subject himself to various cyberspace humiliations if viewers met certain donating targets. The resulting video has been watched more than 16,000 times on YouTube.

ActBlue was created as a political action committee in June 2004 by two Democratic activists from Cambridge, Mass., shortly after the presidential campaign of Howard Dean showed the power of online fund raising. The idea was to transfer that force to Democrats more broadly. Since its inception, ActBlue has raised more than $28 million for Democratic candidates, mostly by making it easy for supporters to bundle together small-dollar donations made via credit card. Mr. Edwards, for example, has raised more than $4 million online via ActBlue.

ActBlue started by focusing on presidential and congressional races. Last year, the site began making its services available for local races in some states. Local candidates have collected more than $750,000 so far this year, up 20% from the total local candidates raised through ActBlue last year, according to ActBlue. Much of the money in the 2006 campaign, about $500,000, was raised by liberal bloggers and their readers on behalf of Democratic secretary of state candidates in seven states. Five of them won.

ActBlue runs on donations from users and provides its services free to candidates. Republicans have tried setting up similar sites but none have taken off so far. Some campaigns, like Mr. Biss's, also use ActBlue as a low-cost way of processing donations from local fund-raisers.
I can tell you this I think Americans have the right to support whatever candidate or cause they support. Perhaps this is the future anonymous people or perhaps groups of people banding together and getting together to donate money to a candidate that they support the most. Hopefully this candidate might be able to use this money to get the exposure he needs to become a viable and successful candidate and most importantly such an individual might actually win on election day.

I haven't checked these links out today, but why not give you guys a couple from this article.
Daniel Biss, Democrat for State Representative

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