Wednesday, December 29, 2010

iVote, eGovt, and all that mobile stuff

The social media enthusiast that I am, I started wondering about how to continue improving constituent connections over the next five years here in wild, wonderful West Virginia. Yes, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Foursquare, MeetUp, etc... all play a significant role, but there is something even bigger I believe we need to focus more efforts on: mobile government.

Also called mGovernment, mobile government is an extension of online government connections to mobile platforms and the tactical use of these applications which are only possible using mobile phones, iPads, laptops, and any other devices that utilize wireless infrastructure. mGovernment can assist with making public information and other governmental services available to citizens anytime, any place, and the ubiquity of mobile devices mandates their employment in government functions, e.g. a mass text in an emergency, like a gas leak. However, several government agencies and public sector organizations are hesitant to adopt mGovernment. Why? Because experimenting with these technologies in the public sector is far more risky than the private sector.

mGovernment’s main benefit is how the immediacy and convenience reduce the bureaucratic red tape and other public service barriers, therefore motivating more citizens to connect with their elected officials and other government agencies. Several additional benefits of mGovernment include; overall cost reduction in communications, improved efficiency, the modernization of public sector organizations, and the general improvement in citizen services. For example, the Bangladesh government text messages warning to its citizens in regard to natural disasters. Parking systems and improved communications between homes and the school systems are being utilized in Estonia.

Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker is the number one politician, in my opinion, who takes advantage of mGovernment. In a TIME magazine article today, “Booker’s twitter feed reads like an action novel.”

When Booker first started tweeting a few years ago, some older Newark residents complained that his online obsession was a narcissistic waste of time. And while it's fair to wonder if all those unplowed Newark streets serve as an indictment of his administration, it's hard to knock his Twitter habit now. The media-savvy Booker knows his Twitter transparency is winning political points.”

So where do we stand in West Virginia in regard to mGovernment?

We have 5 iPhone Apps, including; WV Newsline, WV Political Contributions, WV Legislative Live Bills Feed, WV Business Records, and LegislateWV. And one iPad App, Mobile. Politicians and public sector organizations are increasing their use on social media vehicles that can be accessed through mobile devices. The Kanawha County Commission is becoming increasingly more visible on two mobile platforms: Twitter and Facebook.

But what’s to come? I spoke with Senator Truman Chafin’s secretary (and amazing fashionista), Kayla Brown, who had the most brilliant idea thus far. When legislators open their laptops (which the Senate still desperately needs in my opinion), when they clicked on the internet, their home screen would be an aggregate of all online media and social tools: a Twitter stream of constituents they could communicate with, an RSS feed reader of local, state, and national news headlines of interest, their schedule that day, Facebook feed, etc... Now I know that’s pretty forward thinking, but this Politico in Stilettos loved the idea, especially since broadband infrastructure accessed is increasing across the state more rapidly than ever. What do you think?

Monday, December 27, 2010

Top 10 People to Watch in West Virginia Politics

The votes are in! Thank you to everyone who emailed, commented, direct messaged, Facebook messaged, and texted me your top ten list! The following list is ordered by the number of votes received.

Here is the Top 10 People to Watch In West Virginia Politics:
10. Betty Ireland
9. Truman Chafin
8. John Raese
7. John Perdue
6. Robin Davis
5. Brooks McCabe
4. Rick Thompson
3. Jeff Kessler
2. Natalie Tennant
1. Earl Ray Tomblin

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Vote for the Top Ten People to Watch in West Virginia Politics

After several people contributed to this list of 50, I’m asking you to vote from the following list for the Top Ten People to Watch in WV Politics!

Here's the list of 50 West Virginians involved in politics whose names were mentioned as people to watch over the next two years, in no particular order. Vote for your top ten!

  1. Carte Goodwin
  2. Robin Davis
  3. Joe Manchin
  4. Earl Ray Tomblin
  5. Truman Chafin
  6. Jeff Kessler
  7. Joe Minard
  8. Natalie Tennant
  9. Kent Carper
  10. Rick Thompson
  11. Doug Reynolds
  12. Harry Keith White
  13. John Perdue
  14. Betty Ireland
  15. Evan Jenkins
  16. Jim Justice
  17. Brooks McCabe
  18. Deborah Linz
  19. Kenny Perdue
  20. John Raese
  21. Richard Browning
  22. Larry Puccio
  23. Don Blankenship
  24. Oliver Luck
  25. WV Tea Party
  26. Matt Woelfel
  27. Chris Doddril
  28. Doug Skaff
  29. Tom Cambell
  30. Dave Hardy
  31. Daniel Hall
  32. Ryan White
  33. Jason Pizatella
  34. Andy Richardson
  35. Tish Chafin
  36. Larry LaCorte
  37. Danielle Waltz
  38. Ryan White
  39. Brian Powell
  40. Jennifer Sayre
  41. Ry Rivard
  42. Carrie Clendening
  43. Rachelle Beckner
  44. Tiffany Lawrence
  45. Meshea Poore
  46. Suzette Raines
  47. Conrad Lucas
  48. Stephen Skinner
  49. Steve McElroy
  50. Steven Adams
  51. _______________(write in)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Joe, Washington is no West Virginia

By now we all know that newly elected Senator Manchin skipped out on two key votes, DADT and the DREAM Act. As a former Secretary of State, Manchin was the Chief Elections Officer of West Virginia. In that role, one of his duties was to increase voter turnout. Imagine if we all decided to do something else this past Election Day and skip out on the very special senate election!

We’re told Manchin had an extremely important family Christmas party to attend to that had been planned for over a year. Why couldn’t he have just voted and flown himself home? Maybe he was scared his plane would have another tire blow out on the runway. Other options? As Ben Smith from Politico and Brandon Kiser from the Daily Caller point out, “the vote was held at 3:00 pm, and Manchin could have taken a United Airlines flight at 5:40 and been in Charleston before 7:30.” (Although, the party was supposed to be at the home of his daughter in Pittsburgh.)

Some have mentioned that the way he would have voted on these two issues would not have been favorable with his constituents and fellow senators, so skipping out was the best option. But I disagree. Not voting and giving a party as an excuse is unacceptable, unsenatorial-like behavior. It shows lack of respect for his constituents and his position in my opinion.

While the press, blogs, and constituents in West Virginia have been pretty easy on Manchin, he needs to realize that Washington is a horse of quite a different color.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

When the Senate Chamber Doors Finally Opened...

...To what did everyones’ wondering eyes did appear, but an empty chamber and two senators with apparently nothing to fear.

In what seemed to be the longest Democratic Party caucus yesterday, the results are still up in the air. According to this morning’s Charleston Gazette, Senator Evan Jenkins, D-Cabell, said, “This is a race to Jan. 12 - to see who can get 18 votes.”

When the Chamber doors finally opened, we learned that Kessler had the votes for needed to adopt a rule change in regards to the Senate Presidency that would then allow him to fill the position. This issue divided the Senate Democrats, and the vote ended up being 16-12 in Kessler’s favor. Kessler commented to me on Sunday he felt confident he had the votes he needed, and he was right.

Questions linger as to who will take leadership positions in the Senate if, indeed, Kessler becomes acting Senate President. Overall, my predictions are that Senator Browning, D-Wyoming, will be Senate Majority Leader, the Senate Judiciary Chairmanship, formerly held by Kessler, will go to Senator Palumbo, D-Kanawha, and the Finance Chair will most likely be Senator Prezioso, D-Marion. I’m dismissing thoughts that Senator McCabe, D-Kanawha, would become Finance Chair, because that would mean two leadership positions in the Senate would belong to senators representing the same district.

So what would happen to those currently holding leadership positions in the Senate? It’s not too hard to figure out. But that’s only if Kessler gets a majority, (meaning there are 6 Republican votes in question.) With the current 12 opposition votes facing Kessler, the addition of the 6 Republican votes would mean Kessler wouldn’t end up as acting Senate President pro tem. (Although I did hear one of the 12 switched to Kessler’s side yesterday later afternoon.)

...So January 12th we'll see what the 12 (or 11) Democrats might just dare, but we know Kessler's counting on all his votes being there.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Quite a lot of “Acting “ taking place in WV politics

What title should the West Virginia’s 80th Legislative session have? We just might need one with all the auditioning, role playing, asides, screen tests, and mainly “acting” that wild, wonderful West Virginians will watch once the curtains are drawn back on January 12, 2011.

Earl Ray Tomblin is the “Acting” Governor. Now, rather than elect a new State Senate President or President Pro Tem, the resolution yielding the biggest compromise to our elected officials in the State Senate focuses on a new position titled “an Acting Senate President.” Senator Herb Snyder, D-Jefferson, makes an excellent point in Phil Kabler’s latest Charleston Gazette column, stating that all bills must be signed by the Speaker of the House, the President of the Senate, and then the Governor. If there’s confusion surrounding which Senate President (actual or pro tem) has the authority to sign bills into law, then anything and everything passed during the next legislative session could be thrown out all together.

This new “acting” position creates less confusion in both the short and long term, seems to be a perfectly reasonable solution to deliver a great performance during the Senate’s opening act on January 12th, but I have just one question: who will take the initiative and sponsor the resolution? And since politics runs on a seniority basis, (most of the time), will a more senior member of the Senate become the “Acting” President? Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, has declared in print and on the air waves that he has the votes he needs to serve in the Acting Governor’s absence from the legislature. While I’d assume that he would become the “Acting” Senate President, I can’t help but state the fact that no plan is certain until those senators walk through the Senate Chamber doors.

Now, where do I find my program?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Jim Justice: West Virginia’s next....

While excitedly racing to The Greenbrier Friday afternoon for the weekend, my mind could only focus on two subjects: shoe shopping at Yarid’s and the possible political aspirations of the four star resort’s owner, Jim Justice. For the last six months or so, we’ve seen his name mentioned in print as a possible political power player and whenever the name of his resort comes up, inevitably someone asks me what I see in my bedazzled, Swarovski Crystal ball regarding his political future.

My findings were not what I expected. While I was predicting the outcome of my investigations to lead in a legislative or possibly more executive direction, I didn’t think cattle would be involved. I made up my mind to discuss anything and everything but politics on Friday evening, yet as our waiter was telling our table the specials, he mentioned a salad featuring “a collection of today’s gatherings all grown exclusively from Greenbrier farms.” Did anyone know the Greenbrier has something like a 40,000 sq. ft. farm?

The next morning, I was able to get some inside information on Jim Justice. Professionally, he shares quite a few of my only-child qualities; he likes to take control of projects, is quite the perfectionist and pays close attention to detail, is a visionary, the word “no” is not in his vocabulary, and strives to be the best (achieving five stars for him is the same thing as straight As for me). While I have a passion for fashion, Justice’s eye is on agriculture. He’s developed a farm at the Greenbrier, and is currently looking into the cattle and dairy industries.

My overall conclusion is that Jim Justice likes taking on projects where he can make an immediate difference, delivering almost instant, tangible results, (someone even told me that Jim Justice is to West Virginia as Danny Jones is to Charleston.) Certain elected positions require more collaboration, negotiation, and compromise than others. In other words, I’d say the legislature is not an option for this man. Given Justice’s love for the agriculture industry, I wouldn’t be surprised if he ran for Commissioner of Agriculture.

So while he has visions of sows and tractors dancing in his head at night, I’ll be nestled all snug in my bed with visions of Stuart Weitzmans from Yarid’s dancing in my head.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Education in WV: What we really need to do


What an eye-opener! Today’s Leadership Kanawha Valley session started at the Kanawha County School Board. We heard from Dr. Duerring, and several principals from various middle and high schools located around the Kanawha County school district. Since I posted yesterday about the possibility of having a public awareness campaign for parents, this was the perfect opportunity to ask some questions. And I must admit I should have researched this issue more before writing yesterday’s post.

Fact: Kanawha County Schools currently educates 600 homeless students. Shocked yet? Keep reading... South Charleston High School Principal Michael Arbogast told us a story about how he was coming out of the school’s weight room one evening around 4:30pm and there was a group of students hanging out on campus. About fifteen minutes later, only one girl was still remaining. He asked her why she wasn’t home yet, had she missed the bus? She replied that school was the only place she felt safe. Her mother was addicted to meth, and continually had different men over who made the girl feel uncomfortable. When her mother was unable to pick her up from school, she called her uncle, who would pick her up when he got off work around 5pm.

Stonewall Jackson is a Title 1 School, meaning it has a poverty level at or above 75% (so 75% or more of students receive free lunch). Because of their Title 1 status, they’ve received eight more teachers, as well as technology funding. Stonewall has held two parent-student events where parents can come in and use Smartboards and other technologies with their students. Both events were extremely successful according to the principal. Now there’s a parent education effort more schools should adopt.

Duerring said that for all the progress Kanawha County has made, there were two major challenges: decreasing the drop-out rate, and teacher recruitment. After listening to today’s discussion, I realized I spoke too soon regarding putting a public awareness campaign for parents before recruitment. The way schools are placing more responsibility on students today, (as compared to when I was enrolled in the KCS school system), places the responsibility of earning a quality education more so on the student. With the ever-developing and transforming educational technology, it’s probably hard for some parents to keep up. For example, Arbogast said that the students were teaching their teachers how to use Smartboards. So while I feel it’s highly valuable to hold parent-student events at every school, recruitment is where we should really be focusing the majority of our efforts. That being said, I’m excited that Rainmaker is working with Kanawha County Schools on new teacher recruitment materials, as well as adding new virtual media vehicles to the mix.

While filling out my Leadership WV application, one question asked, “In your opinion, what significant changes must be made in West Virginia now in order to improve the economy and lifestyle of the state in the future?” Immediately now-Senator Bob Beach tweet came into my mind about a teacher recruitment meeting. And while teacher recruitment is necessary, it isn’t, in my opinion, the first step West Virginia should make in attempting to strengthen our education system.

We have a drop out rate that’s all together too high, truancy is an issue, and kids are leaving high school and college to get jobs so they can help their families make ends meet. The importance of education doesn’t start with the child sitting in class, it starts at home. If parents do not value education, neither will their children. Therefore developing a public awareness campaign that educates parents on the importance of their child’s education is mission-critical in my opinion. It’s one thing to have a great teacher who inspires a student to learn, but if that student leaves home to go to a part-time job until midnight, they obviously aren’t going to get their homework done.

Recently, Riverside High School in Belle, West Virginia, was on an MTV show. To what did my wondering eyes appear, but sleeping kids, and the fact that literally no student seemed to care about their education. High school is about gossip, but it’s not all about gossip and social status, (to prove my point, this fashion-obsessed girl fell in love with honors chemistry). One teacher being interviewed discussed how students at Riverside often came to school sleepy and exhausted after being up all night working to help their families or taking care of a child. How can anyone be ready to learn if they’ve been working all evening, attempted to finish homework so they could pass with a D, and go to bed at 2am only to wake up at 5:30am to catch the bus?

Before we discuss recruitment, let’s take a step back and put educating parents first. Then, after a public awareness campaign is developed and launched, let’s talk about recruitment.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

WV Politics this Week: Bring an extra pair of flats...

When I passed the current State Senate President pro tem, Joe Minard, (D-Harrison), on my dreary drive back to Charleston today, I realized I had picked the perfect weekend to head up I-79 to Pittsburgh for shoe and Sephora shopping, as well as socializing with some fabulous friends. Why? Politics in the state of West Virginia will require some skyscraper-high stilettos, and probably a pair or two of flats, this week.

Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, (D-Logan), will take the gubernatorial oath of office on Tuesday, November 16th, at 10a.m. Taking this oath is not mentioned in either the state Constitution nor the state code. So why is Tomblin taking this oath? Could it be to affirm that he’s the Governor of the State of West Virginia, not just the “acting Governor”? Phil Kabler commented in today’s Sunday Gazette that this could be a “pre-emptive measure, in the event that other senators would stage a coup and elect a new Senate president when the 80th Legislature convenes in January.” (That almost happened a few sessions ago.)

If that’s the case and a new Senate President is elected, technically that person is also acting governor. So taking an oath of office would distinguish Tomblin from the newly elected Senate President. (I’m assuming that kerfuffle would end up going before the Supreme Court.) But if Tomblin is elected Senate President again, will he choose Minard to be Senate President pro tem, or choose someone else? Either way, there are several contenders for the position, such as Majority Leader Truman Chafin, D-Mingo, Senate Finance Chairman Walt Helmick, D-Pocahontas, Senate Judiciary Chairman Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, and somehow I keep hearing Senator Mike Green, D-Raleigh. (What happened to McCabe or Wells?)

So here’s my two cents (which is about all I have left after shoe shopping this weekend): Green and Tomblin are tight, but I feel Green is a little too “green”, and may his eye on something higher. Helmick’s got several grandchildren and may want to spend more time with the family. Kessler would consider not running for governor if he was Senate President (elected or pro tem), and I hear he thinks he has the votes. If that’s the case, it places him opposite of Chafin, who I feel is the better choice for Senate President (elected or pro tem).

Like I said, it’s going to be quite a crazy week in West Virginia politics. So throw a Clif Bar and an extra pair of flats in your bag during interims this week, you’ll need them.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

WV needs solutions, not problems.

Will we have another very special election in West Virginia? That’s all the buzz from the panhandles to the southern coal fields. The great legislative battle has begun between the House of Delegates and the Senate, with the Speaker and President going head-to-head. While the issue is whether or not we should elect someone as our governor for two years, after all the campaigning is said and done and the general election won, it’ll be one year that person will actually be governing the great state of West Virginia. Yes, succession and special election law and code is ambiguous. But the problems our beloved Mountain Momma faces going forward are not ambiguous in the least.

We’ve got massive economic and financial issues to tackle, and it’s going to be a rough ride. Starting with continuing to diversifying our energy portfolio, the OPEB liability, carbon capture, and investing more heavily in infrastructure, bringing targeted industries to the state, how to decrease the school drop out rate....these are the issues the legislature needs to be focusing on developing solutions to. And it starts by putting West Virginia and her residents first.

Can we afford another special election? While that’s the $10 million dollar question, what will be the fall-out from spending that money? Will state, county, and city jobs be cut? Does any current or potential 2011 gubernatorial candidate have a feasible solution so the second very special election won’t be such a burden on tax payers? (Now there’s a great campaign idea.) Moreover, what immediate, tangible results will the next governor (in 2011) be capable of providing West Virginians as an incentive to re-elect that person in 2012?

Have any of the 2011 gubernatorial candidates outlined a specific strategy to move our state forward?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Special Election 2011: Let the battle begin!

According to the West Virginia Constitution, Article 7, Section 16, & the West Virginia Code Section 3-10-2, we’re having a special election for governor, where party conventions choose the candidates. According to some, Tomblin could say the nearest election day would be in 2012, but several agree that’s precluded by the current statute.

After acting-Governor Tomblin’s press conference yesterday morning, Speaker Thompson issued a press release stating that we need an election sooner than 2012.

“If Gov. Manchin’s replacement is not chosen until November 2012, for the next two years, more than one half of the term, the people of West Virginia will have a governor they did not select, while the counties of the 7th Senatorial District will be represented by only half of their senatorial delegation,” Thompson says in his press release. (Full version here:

Tomblin told Phil Kabler in this morning’s Charleston Gazette that, “I am aware of the strong desires of some wishing to have an election prior to 2012. If my fellow West Virginians express an overwhelming desire to have a quick election, I will work with the Legislature to make that a reality.” (Full story here:

For what it’s worth, I say all this “mess” goes to the Supreme Court who then rules we have a special gubernatorial election prior to 2012. Needless to say, the next year in West Virginia politics could be quite a headache.

So who all will run for governor? We already know several names (see previous blog posting), but for some reason, and I could be wrong, I have a strong feeling some dark horse could come out and pull a Caperton on the wild, wonderful West Virginia political scene....

Monday, November 8, 2010

To have or not to have another Very Special Election? That is the question!

Senate President and now acting Governor Tomblin (@Senator_Tomblin) held a press conference this morning to clarify what West Virginians can expect to see as he takes over Manchin’s mansion. Not surprising to hear that, according to Tomblin, there doesn’t seem to be a need to have an election for governor until 2012. After all, he’s been saying that for quite some time now. But that opinion comes with several objections from state Democrats and Republicans.

Kanawha County attorney and former candidate Thorton Cooper called for a special gubernatorial election in 2011, threatening to sue moments after Tomblin becomes governor. State Senate (@wvsenate) Minority Leader Mike Hall states that the State Constitution calls for an election sooner than 2011. Speaker of the House (@wvhouse) Thompson (@RT4WV) stated in a Charleston Gazette (@wvgazette) article by Lawrence Messina (@lmessina) this morning, “Clearly, acting governor is not governor. We would be without a governor until we have an election. The constitution envisioned a reasonable election date... It could be very costly for us not to have the election.” (Full article :

Having an election in 2011 bears one major burden on us all: the amount of money it will cost the state. Overall, the decision to have or not to have a special election is in the hands of the Supreme Court. But when will we know the outcome?

Back to Tomblin, he plans to run for Senate President again, but will not draw a salary form the Senate, only from being acting governor. His agenda includes education as a top priority, but then again didn’t Manchin’s? (We all saw how successful the June 2010 special session was.) Overall, chaos 2011 here we come!

*While trying to link some twitter names stated above, Twitter failed on me. I apologize and will update later this afternoon.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Divided Government: Can it help West Virginia?

During the first #polwv tweet up, (yes we West Virginia political junkies in Charleston had a tweet up at the infamous Red Carpet last night), I said that it’s time we look beyond party lines and have real conversation about how in the heck we are going to keep people working in this state tomorrow, ten years from now, and beyond. Let’s face it, coal is hanging in the balance, and Senator Rockefeller’s legislation only gives us about two years before the EPA cuts off coal jobs.

On Tuesday night, we watched as Republicans earned a few more victories, putting them in control of the House. This, I feel, is a good thing, (and yes, I’m a Democrat). Why? Because when one party has total control of the White House and one or both chambers of Congress, only one agenda gets pushed. When government is divided, like it is now, we have a better chance of getting legislation passed that will actually do some good. When one party controls everything, legislation is either to the far left or the far right, and someone gets blamed for things when they go wrong. That being said, having a balance allows us to develop more effective solutions for our country’s issues that will, hopefully, trickle down to the states.

While that’s just my personal opinion, what do you think? And since trends in wild, wonderful West Virginia occur about two years behind that of the rest of the nation, how does Tuesday’s election foreshadow what will take place in the mountain state in 2012? (Or maybe 2011...)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

What’s After Decision 2010 for WV?

With Manchin headed to Washington, what does that mean for us here in wild, wonderful, West Virginia? Well I believe we’ll have a gubernatorial primary in a few months. Can you believe West Virginia will have three straight years of political campaigns?

Several politicians have already thrown their hat in the ring as contenders to take over Manchin’s mansion, including Treasurer John Perdue, Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin, Senator Brooks McCabe, and Speaker of the House Rick Thompson for starters.

Treasurer Perdue named his campaign manager, Chuck Smith, early last month. Brooks McCabe stated his intentions to run back in late August. And through the numerous ceremonies for the late Senator Byrd, West Virginians saw what a match-up between Tomblin and Thompson would look like when several photos of each soon-to-be candidate standing at podium where perfectly positioned beside each other appeared in several newspaper articles.

But the list doesn’t end there, as I have a feeling several 2012 candidates could switch to 2010. Senator Jeff Kessler has announced his intentions to run in 2012, and he even as a website,, but is still available. Senate Minority Leader Clark Barnes has also stated he’d run for governor in 2012, and I have a sneaky suspicion that Senate Minority Leader Mike Hall has visions of governor’s mansions dancing in his head at night.

Either way, I can’t help but wonder with everyone running for office, who is running West Virginia government?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Technology Making Polling More Difficult

When I look back on this election, two key things will stick out in my mind: how muddy it was and how much polling was done. I cannot remember an election when we’ve ever more anxiously waited with bated breath for each new poll result, especially in the case of the United States Senate race in West Virginia.

But with each new poll there seems to be more and more inaccuracies due to sample flaws, the nature of who conducts the poll (Orion Strategies ring a bell), etc...

Recently a tweep and I were discussing inaccuracies in current polling and how technology is making the business of polling increasingly difficult. How so? Lots of people are trading their landlines for mobile devices, which by law cannot be randomly called. Because of new phone technologies like Vonage, Yahoo Phone, and Magic-Jack people are retaining older area codes, making it harder to get a scientific sample. While these problems were prevalent two years ago, they’ve significantly increased during this election cycle, and could lead to across the board inaccuracies.

This is extremely concerning to this stiletto-clad, 25-year old because it could undercount the amount of young people who turn out to vote this midterm election.

If only polling could be conducted through mobile devices... But it sort of already is.

Today’s digital culture provides a platform for debate, drawing instant feedback from blogs or Facebook chats. The culture demands transparency, along with a desire to engage in heated discussions as opposed to the stonewalling we commonly see on TV.

Social media are revolutionizing the way politicians campaign, increasing candidate and constituent relationships through conversation and providing instant feedback that cannot be achieved from traditional polling.

Is social media the next generation of polling?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Was there an actual debate?

Was there an actual debate?

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

Last night we watched as the four candidates for United States Senate “debated.” It might have been called a “debate”, but according to WSAZ’s Jessica Ralston (@JessicaRalston), the Gazette’s Kathryn Gregory (@kitgregory), the Daily Mail’s Ry Rivard (@ryrivard) what happened on TV last night was anything but. Where were the hardball questions? No one raised their voices, no one debated. So I’m calling for a Twitter debate between the candidates. No, we all know it most likely won’t be them doing the tweeting, but since their campaigns cannot pick a mutually beneficial date to debate in Charleston, this seems like the most logical solution. Thoughts?

Changing the subject a little, the most surprising candidate last night was the Constitution Party’s Jeff Becker. Whoever prepared him for that debate should have given him a xanex. Someone tweeted asking if he even spoke English. Another tweep said he would be the Daily Show’s dream. Needless to say, he won’t be our next United States Senator.

Winners and losers from last night’s debate:

Winning moments:

-John Raese (@RaeseforSenate) had two quotes I rather enjoyed, the first one being “We win, you lose.” The second one being “It’s called demand.”

-Joe Manchin’s charisma, calmness, appearance, and perfect sound bites. The quote that ended the debate, was nothing short of cheesy perfection: "I believe in you, and I'm asking you to believe in me."

-Manchin taking on the “rubber stamp” tag and owning it.

Big fat fails of the so-called debate:

-Raese wearing his Rolex and black suit. It’s not a funeral.

-Becker’s inability to speak coherently (I appreciate nervousness but there are pills for that).

-Johnson waisting half of his closing “minute” to speak fussing about how he didn’t get to respond to previous questions.

And moments I was lost:

-Becker talking about physics

-Johnson asking “Are you sick enough yet?”

-Raese’s statements on global warming

-Johnson dwelling on penmanship

-No one asking about subpoenas

I think West Virginians need to see a the candidates speak for two hours and it needs to be an actual debate. You can call what happened last night a debate, but for many of us it wasn’t.

Monday, October 18, 2010

The Watergate of 2010

In yesterday’s New York Times, Jill Abramson juxtaposed the Watergate scandals of 1972 compared to the General Election of 2010.

According to Abramson, “...the fund-raising practices that earned people convictions in Watergate...are back in a different form in 2010.”

I couldn’t agree more, but there’s one big difference between 1972 and today: legality. It’s perfectly legal to receive secret campaign cash. While contributors cannot donate specifically to candidates, they can donate to campaigns that directly support or attack candidates. I’m sure the GOP is thanking the Supreme Court every day for this, as they are the party significantly taking advantage of this law.

I feel full disclosure of campaign contributions greatly increases transparency and really shows what kind of person a candidate is. Voters need to know who is funding political campaigns, because buying seats in government is unethical and unacceptable.

The scariest thing? Think of how many millions are being spent on campaigns now... it’s just setting the stage for 2012.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Manchin’s Campaign: Recommendations from the Politico in Stilettos

I believe it was Mic Jagger who said, “You can let yourself go, just as long as you can bring yourself back.” The United States Senate campaign between Manchin and Raese has many politicos across the nation wondering if Manchin can bring himself back in and come out on top.

It’s without question that his campaign has made mistakes, and this Politico in Stilettos is not only learning from those mistakes, but moreover trying to learn how to spin them and come out on top. But how to you spin the GOP’s “rubber stamp for Obama” angle?

Simple. You rebrand Manchin’s relationship with Obama, with a little help from Ringo. Who do you go to for advice? Who do you trust? Who helps you in times of need?

“Oh I get by with a little help from my friends...”

Manchin is a friend of Obama, someone who can most effectively teach him about the very special needs of our very unique wild, wonderful West Virginia. Obama surrounds himself with friends, meaning people he respects and trusts. I’m sure he doesn’t trust someone who slams everything the man has or hasn’t accomplished since he ran for office. Would you give someone the time of day if all they told you was how wrong you were? I know I wouldn’t. We all know Manchin is a “Friend of Coal” and, especially based on some of the GOP’s ads right now, he’s a friend of Obama. Thus, Manchin is the man who can make Obama a friend of coal.

Next problem: NRSC’s ad about “DC Joe”, how do you spin that?

Joe Manchin will not be the “DC Joe” the GOP has attempted to brand him as. Rather, he’s West Virginia’s Joe. Nobody knows West Virginia’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats like a full-time West Virginian. How many similarities does West Virginia have in common with Florida? As a legislator and as Governor, Manchin has been there for the people of West Virginia, and he will continue to be there because he’s West Virginia’s Joe.

If I had a hand in his campaign, these are what I’d propose to do on TV with corresponding direct mail and social media. But, that’s me.