Sunday, March 28, 2004

But what did you really think of it, Jeff?

Jarvis: "The New Republic's cover story --, Why the Internet Won't Topple Tyranny -- is a load of naysaying, stick-in-the-sludge, cynical, behind-the-times, underreported, snotty crap."

8:39:50 AM    comment []

"Howard Coble needs a serious challenger." Today's newspaper column:

That leaves a good-sized chunk of the republic with one party that enjoys a permanent hold on power. There is no meaningful public debate or conversation on the issues every other fall. It's ridiculous. It's un-American. And it's the Democrats' own fault...

...Coble, a one-time proponent of term limits, has long since put that quaint notion behind him. The seat is his as long as he wants it, and he's gotten very comfortable in it. Too comfortable. The citizens of the 6th deserve a chance to see him work for the job...

...One thing I hope any candidate -- including Coble -- would do is to run as transparent a campaign as possible, writing regularly for the public on the Web, both as a candidate and a member of Congress...

...There are some issues to discuss...

8:12:21 AM    comment []

I regret to announce that I will not be running for Congress this year.

I was serious about challenging Howard Coble. In fact, in the first draft of today's newspaper column about our local one-party system, I said I would do it.

But a funny thing happened to my plans for an insurgent, send-a-message candidacy: as I researched the possibilities, I began to feel that it could quickly turn into something more than I can take on right now.

Not that I think I could have won. The last Democrat to challenge Coble got less than 30% of the vote. But the prospect of losing, even losing by a lot, even in a hard-fought race, never bothered me.

What I began to see was that I could run a real campaign, not just make a statement. Some powerful local Democrats were very encouraging to me. One very major national blogger offered to donate free ad space to a campaign, and another offered to work on the campaign web presence.

More importantly, I came to think that I could raise a significant amount of money Ė from Democrats itching to overthrow this ridiculous gerrymandered system, from people online who donít like Cobleís ignorant corporate-coddling stance on P2P, and from my extensive personal network in Guilford County. Six figures did not seem at all unlikely to me.

But raising money is an obligation Ė you canít do it in volume just to make a point or run a little protest race. Ditto for trading on the name Iíve built for myself as a columnist, and on the family name that would have helped me as a candidate: I couldnít put those up without investing everything I had in the election.

And I know myself: I would have done just that. I could not have contented myself with a message candidacy, not if something bigger was in reach. I would have run hard as hell Ė fulltime, flat-out. I would have spent hours every day on the race. And that is what I cannot afford to do. Not yet.

There is no great mystery as to my constraints: Iíve got a career to maintain, a young family that needs my time, an ill stepfather, and volunteer obligations from which I cannot walk away. Yes, I had all of those things when I started talking about a run, but as I say, the scope of what was possible looks much larger now than it did two weeks ago.

My intuition that things may be changing, here and in national politics, feels more correct than ever to me. Itís time to break the lock on power held by the big-money establishment Ė which in this case involves both Democrats and Republicans. A lot of people donít like the status quo, and they are ready to fight it.

Maybe someone else is at a point where they can take up the challenge this year. Iím sorry it canít be me, and Iím sorry if Iíve let anyone down.

8:07:38 AM    comment []