Chris Rhodes runs a blog. He's got a breezy style, shoots from the hip, makes fun of some of the GOP trainwrecks, is a partisan White Sox fan and has some interesting things to say. He linked over to my site today. It's here.
The bizarre part is that he is the official blogger for Tom Cross, the Illinois House Republican Leader.
Has anyone else seen a political figure that hands over the keys to the website like that? I mean, can you imagine a John Kerry or George Bush website where the blogger has a little fun at their own party's expense? (His little riff on Terry Parke and ABBA is awesome).
I think it's great. And it's a symbol of the new style for House Republicans in Illinois. The House Republican caucus had a little revolution in December of 2002. With a new map and the Dems sweeping state government, Lee Daniels decided to step down as House GOP Leader.
Most of the suburbanites (especially the women) decided they wanted to end the top-down, initimidation and discipline style that Lee Daniels had shown through the 90s. They backed Tom Cross, and the leadership team for the House Republicans is about the opposite of a parliamentary whip.
On just about every single vote, House Republicans vote whatever way they want. There is rarely, if ever, a caucus position that is binding on the members.
It sure isn't like that in the other three caucuses, where the leadership runs things.
And no other caucus even has a decent website. Go check out the www.joincross.com site. Just look at the name: *join* Cross. Not TomCross.com. Come, reader and *join* Tom Cross. Get involved. It's the same spirit as the Howard Dean campaign, only for the House Republicans.
They're doing everything right. Raising money from small donors. Sending a message out about the big bad villain (usually Mike Madigan, but sometimes Governor Blagojevich). Making people feel that their small efforts matter in a bigger picture.
I wish the Democrats had half as good a web strategy. I can hear most of the old school captains now, even as I type this. They'd say: "Computers don't vote." But somebody who is plugged into the net has got to get Madigan's ear on this stuff. I don't know who. Because Tom Cross might not have a shot to become Speaker this decade (because of the Democratic map), but if he keeps his media guys working this well, there will likely be some more statewide GOP victories in 06 than just Judy Baar. We Dems can't keep depending on the base every election, and getting swing voters by demonizing the Republicans. That worked in 02 for Rod ("20 years of Republican corruption"), but it won't in 06. Now we Dems have to earn those swing voters. Aping Tom Cross' site would help.