Disclosure: I worked for the Lamont campaign doing web design and production and some writing for the official blog (from 9/5/06 to 11/07/06).

Monday, March 06, 2006


Nedroots Campaigning

Paul Bass, author of this weekend's NE Magazine piece that Kos links to today, has another article in the New Haven Independent about the grassroots/netroots strategy of the fledgling Lamont campaign. He followed Ned Lamont on a 120-mile trip to speak in front of 16 supporters in Killingly last week, in "the Quiet Corner" of the state, or as Bass puts it, "Little Appalachia." The way this campaign is already proving itself adept at using and motivating the netroots is apparent. Take this description of how the campaign found a lone supporter from the Quiet Corner via Daily Kos and won him over enough to volunteer for the campaign:

Grossman vented some of these frustrations one day on a national liberal blog called the Daily Kos. A Lamont staffer read his post, contacted him, told him about the Lamont campaign. The staffer invited Grossman to see Lamont up close at the event at the Killingly Community Center....

Lamont didn't pander, though. He didn’t give Leigh Grossman the precise answer he was looking for on eavesdropping, for instance.

Grossman asked Lamont if electronic eavesdropping by the federal government is necessary at all. Yes, Lamont said. His beef with Bush is that Bush has done it illegally, with contempt for safeguards meant to protect people's privacy rights.

"I'm afraid in this world we are going to have to have a higher level of intelligence," Lamont said. "But darn it, the president is not going to have that authority" to make decisions about intelligence without checks and balances....

After hearing Lamont, he said he would probably volunteer for the campaign. That was probably the night's most promising sign for the fledgling Lamont express. Not because one more volunteer enlisted. (It’ll take a lot more Grossmans and McNallys to mount a serious challenge.) But because of what it said about the campaign's tactics.

Bass proceeds to describe those tactics and Lamont's engagement with the technology and strategy of netroots outreach:

Lamont made his money figuring out the future of technology, first at Cablevision, then developing closed-circuit TV systems for colleges and gated communities through his company Lamont Digital Systems. In the car ride to Killingly, I listened to his end of a conference call about the use of technology and media in this campaign. While none of it was original, it certainly bespoke a comfort and sophistication with the changing playing field of political competition. (I agreed not to report on the specifics.)

Similarly, the staffer who spotted Grossman on the Daily Kos exhibited a savvy about modern-day campaigns reminiscent of the early, heady days of the Dean for President drive. The web site is solid, too, and it's drawing volunteers and cash from around the country among Dean-style Dems.

Add that to the money Lamont can afford to throw into his campaign, and it’s clear that, while his quest is a longshot, it’s also hard-headed and credible. Or at least worth the time of antiwar activists and liberal party volunteers from places like Killingly.

A 120-mile trip to convince a handful of supporters in a usually-ignored area of the state. A web-savvy campaign with a candidate who is himself well-versed in media and technology and eager to learn more. This is exactly the combination of traditional grassroots and cutting-edge netroots campaigning that is needed to take on an entrenched incumbent senator. Call it "Nedroots" campaigning.
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