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This has been making the rounds in the progressive blogosphere, but I thought it worth highlighting here as a comparison to our own situation in Missouri. Jeff Merkley’s campaign manager sat down with OregonLive.com to share his thoughts on their successful primary campaign for US Senate in Oregon. Merkley, the Speaker of the Oregon House, narrowly defeated political activist Steve Novick in last week’s primary 45% to 42%.

The passage from the interview most often quoted by bloggers (for obvious reasons):

Q: Did the Novick campaign reach a level of support you hadn’t expected in this race?

Isaacs: Here’s how I would put it. I think one of the things we saw in this campaign, particularly in the Portland area, was that the Internet has real reach…Novick had built his name recognition, he had built his favorable ratings with very little television, particularly with his first two ads [which poked fund at his disabilities and went viral on the internet].

Basically, Novick had little institutional support, a lot less money, and spent very little on TV ads. Yet he won the vote in Portland, and came close elsewhere, partially by word-of-mouth in the blogosphere and YouTube. He turned his own brash character and odd appearance (Novick is only 4’9″ and has a metal hook for a left hand) into positives using a brilliant series of viral videos. Here’s one of them:

We’ve got some way to go as compared to Oregon’s blogosphere in terms of audience (there are four times as many progressive blogs in Oregon as in Missouri, and Blue Oregon dwarfs Fired Up Missouri in Alexa ratings) and influence, but this is perhaps a vision of things to come in Missouri. If you look over at the blogroll in the left sidebar, there are a lot of good people working hard in the Missouri blogosphere. More Missourians will use the internet as a place to gather and discuss political news. Our audiences and savvy will only grow by next cycle.

So will the internet awareness of local politicians. From my own point of view, Jeff Harris, Jay Nixon, and Kay Barnes all come in for particular praise for their ability to work with blogs in spreading their message, while Margaret Donnelly (and lately Chris Koster) are getting better at it. Byron DeLear is working at it, too. Others have been cooperative when asked for information, but not many others have been very proactive with the blogosphere. Here’s hoping that changes, because while smaller, blog audiences can do a lot more for candidates than a passive TV or newspaper audience, if one gets them motivated. Novick proved that in Oregon.