Four years ago, during the last election cycle, I was the newcomer amongst a cadre of local bloggers commenting on the loco politico scene. In 2006 the blog heavyweights were The Hedgehog Report, HoCo Hayduke, David Keelans’ Howard County Maryland Blog and Evan Corens’ Howard County Blog. FreeMarket and Columbia Compass were in the second tier. I was somewhere in the third tier with fineline and Phil Marcus.
2006 was the first year that local blogs began to play a role in an election. Those four top blogs even got together and sponsored an online candidates forum for local and state races. It is doubtful whether their efforts had any impact on the election. In 2006 blogs were still considered a little “out there.” A few voters took note, most didn’t.
Four years later the blog landscape has changed completely. Hayduke ceased blogging in November 0f 2005 after a futile attempt to balance loco politico blogging with his new role as an insider, Evan’s blog began to fade away shortly after he was elected to the Columbia Council in 2007. Howard County Maryland Blog hasn’t had a new post since this past March and Hedgehog rarely posts on local issues anymore.
This time around two of the top loco politico bloggers were not even blogging in 2006 yet the readership and influence has noticeably increased. In 2006 most politicos paid little more than lip service to the nascent blogging community. This time around loco politicos not only read the blogs they also see the blogs as an important conduit for their messages.
It’s a shift of sorts, not a dramatic shift but a shift nonetheless and if it has the effect of reaching more voters and expanding the dialogue on local issues, it’s a good thing. Case in point is HoCo Risings post today on the Taxpayer Protection Initiative and the HoCo GOP. That is the sort of commentary that is best suited for this media.
The players may have changed but loco politico blogging is alive and well in HoCo.