The Blog War on Capitol Hill

Two interesting articles on lawmakers’ embrace of blogs popped up this week. Both shed light on the growing importance bloggers have on members of Congress, even if only a handful of members are utilizing them to their full potential.

Josephine Hearn reports in The Hill newspaper about the left’s courting of bloggers. Most interesting about Hearn’s article is the left’s ongoing displeasure with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (R.-Calif.), who recently drew a 19% approval rating on Daily Kos.

The Hill also names two Democrats as active bloggers: Representatives John Conyers (D.-Mich.) and Louise Slaughter (D.-N.Y.).

Democrats are also apparently copying the tactics of Republican staffers working for Rep. Jack Kingston (Ga.). It was Kingston’s crew who put together a briefing with right-leaning bloggers on March 3. The Hill reports that Democrats held a similar strategy session two weeks ago:

Democrats brought in bloggers John Aravosis (AmericaBlog), Matt Stoller (MyDD) and Duncan Black (Atrios) and two experts from the progressive Center for American Progress two weeks ago to advise press secretaries on how to court blogs. The Democratic caucus devoted its entire March 29 meeting to technology issues.

The stakes with blogs are a bit higher for Democrats than they are for Republicans. The liberal blogosphere is better developed than its conservative counterpart. Liberal blogs often provide volunteers or campaign contributions to campaigns. And liberal blogs offer an outlet for Democrats when the traditional media have until recently paid them little heed.

I’ve written on several occasions about Republicans’ embrace of blogs. But without firsthand knowledge, I had no idea the GOP was beating the Democrats.

That’s made clear by the second article that popped up last week. Eric Pfeiffer reports for the Washington Times that Kingston is bound and determined to convince more members of his party to utilize blogs and cultivate bloggers.

Here’s an excerpt:

Mr. Kingston says the Internet has increased conservative expectations for real-time results and that Republicans must act quickly to ensure high voter turnout.

“What worries me is that conservative thought is moving quickly, but we’re kind of the pachyderms in Congress because things move so slowly,” Mr. Kingston said.

“If we don’t keep them happy and energized, they are not going to vote. We need to make sure they have a reason to show up in November.”

Even though I was picking on Kingston earlier today, I give him and his staff credit for taking on this important assignment. It could go a long way toward helping the party in November (and giving Kingston a boost as he looks to move up the GOP leadership ladder—perhaps as early as next January if current Republican Conference Chairman Deb Pryce moves to the Financial Services Committee).