Paula Villescaz, an 18-year-old student at Mira Loma High School, is one of the many posters to announce her candidacy on Leubitz's Calitics Web page.
"The state party is largely composed of old buddies who get together to socialize every once in a while, with most meetings being poorly attended and little business getting done in them," wrote Villescaz, who spent much of the last year working on Charlie Brown's unsuccessful bid to unseat Rep. John Doolittle, R-Roseville. "This is why I hope to get a seat."
At most, bloggers could fill 3 percent of the 960 state Democratic Party Assembly delegate seats. But win or lose, the cyber voices of liberals like Leubitz and Villescaz are starting to be heard.
The clearest measure of their success is their steadily increasing Web traffic.
"I started the site in August 2005, and back then I would get 90 hits a day," recalls Leubitz. "In November, it peaked at 3,000."
I haven't peeked at the stats lately, but we are doing better than that now. Like Brian, I started blogging heavily here in California in Aug of 05. There was a pretty anemic blogging scene given the progressiveness of the state and the fact that a number of big national bloggers live in the state. Since then dozens of sites have popped up, full of excellent writers and dedicated activists. Calitics itself has expanded its stable of bloggers and is now a daily read for bloggers, staffers and reporters. More than one post has made its way into a mainstream publication.
One of the sites that has launched since Aug 05 is Frank's California Progress Report. He and I spent some time hanging out at Debra Bowen's inauguration this Monday. He didn't tell me he has been appearing on TV. I had to learn about it from this article. Great stuff Frank!
But there have been other, perhaps more tangible, signs of the rising influence of liberal blogs -- or "netroots," as they call themselves.
Frank Russo, who operates the California Progress Report, another liberal Web site, says he is now being booked as a pundit on traditional media outlets. He is a weekly guest on Bay Area talk radio and was an on-air analyst for KPIX, the Bay Area's CBS affiliate, on election night.
"That wouldn't have happened before I started my site," says Russo, whose Web page has logged more than 200,000 visitors since its launch last March.
Frank has poured a ton of hours and thousands dollars into his site. Like most, blogging is a passion project and a labor of love. I am one of the very few to actually get paid to do some of this work, something hopefully changes with time. As I said in the article "It is a dream position. There are very very few people nationally who are paid to blog."
But enough about me. I want to talk about something that is mentioned in the article. A few of us have been invited by Steve Maviglio to appear on a panel in the Capitol for a group of Assembly Chief of Staffs and Press Secretaries. We have a bunch of ideas about what we want to talk about, but I would love to get your input. What makes a good elected official blogger? What would you like to see them doing in terms of outreach? What will they get out of spending time and resources in the blogosphere?
Once again, best of luck to Paula (that's her pictured in the article) and all of the rest of you running this weekend. We have accomplished a lot in the past year and a half. There is a lot more to do, so stay tuned. Hang out at Calitics. Get more involved with your local grassroots. And let's work together to make this state match the idealized one in our heads.