Activists vs. Institutional candidates
I had removed this post a few weeks ago after briefly publishing it. Here it is in full, with edits below.
A few days ago I was interviewed on the topic of netroots candidate support and the potential notion that Stephen Harrison may become the 'netroots' candidate versus Domenic Recchia being the institution candidate. It was very good timing as I had some notes on a very similar story and had put it aside while the 3Q FEC filings came out.
Let me start by saying at the moment I think Domenic Recchia has a much better chance, if not already, of being the institution backed candidate than Stephen Harrison has of being the netroots candidate in this match up. Let me also note that Recchia still has yet to declare so I am taking the liberty of assuming all of this based on his presumed candidacy. Finally for those who may not understand the concept of netroots I would define it as internet created grassroots support. By that I mean that a group of activists who happen to be an online community instead of a physical geographic community.
Domenic Recchia through limited media coverage has become the institutional candidate through his backing by Rep. Jerry Nadler, Councilman Mike McMahon and State Senator Diane Savino. On the contrary a potentially interesting juxtaposition is Harrison's support which seemingly for now is the activists and what is shaping up to be the political club membership.
Neither of these groups of supporters make either individual a netroots candidate. More often than not it seems that the non-institutional candidate gets the netroots support because the opportunity exists in that situation for the netroots activists to make a drastic difference in a race. That said it is possible to be both institutionally and netroots supported, e.g. Dan Seals (second bio). This is important because I don't want anyone to read into any of this and think a candidate like Recchia can not gain netroots support. Also netroots support is not something a group of us get together and vote on over a beer. It is often the result of hard work by a candidate to engage voters in the political process, to speak honestly and forthright about issues voters actually care about while speaking with them, not at them. Iraq, a pivotal issue in 2006 in many primaries was a major factor in who the netroots backed, and it is making itself an issue again here in 2008.
Recchia himself has said his issue he will go after Fossella with is Iraq, and rightfully so. The difference I see is that Recchia's comments appear in newspapers and Stephen Harrison appears at protest marches. This in my opinion is a great move on Harrison's part. How better to declare your opposition to both the war and Fossella's continuous support of it than to protest at his office. Further he is amongst activists who already are politically engaged and who will hit the streets for their cause, which is his case he should hope is his race. Still this does not make him a netroots candidate, but it does help position him on the side of activists more than Recchia's actions to date (which may or may not change).
to be continued...
After this initial post there is a bit of back and forth on Daily Gotham regarding Steve Harrison and Bouldin makes the case that Harrison is making himself the Progressive choice "a machine politician like Recchia will probably not find Progressive support, and Harrison will." The full read is worth it.