Once again, we are going to take a look at the state of Candidate's Websites for our leading Democratic candidates. The grading system:
F - no website except government site.
D - website with no online contact info (phone/address only) that looks like it was made in Dreamweaver in the 90s.
C - website has online contact info, but is out-of-date with news/bills/action that is listed.
B - website has all of the above and appears to be updated on a regular basis, has a photo page, and a way to donate online.
A - website has all of the above, plus a blog or chatroom, and links to Flickr/YouTube/MySpace/Facebook sites.
So, who rises and who falls?
Beverly Perdue - F- (last grade, F)
Beverly Perdue has no website available other than her official government page. Same as last time, but I lowered her score even more because I just noticed that her wiki page doesn't even have a picture. Talk about having no online presence....
UPDATE: Richard Moore - A- (last grade C)
Richard Moore has come a long way since last time. He has a new website up with all the required information to earn an A grade. However, as a rough guess I would say the new site went up on May 22, 2007. Why? Because that is the date on ALL THE "issues" that have been published. I'm not nuts about the webpage design, it is too narrow, but at least they are making an honest attempt at having a blog (UPDATE HERE: I had to drop Richard Moore to an A- because his blog doesn't allow comments) and links to Flickr and YouTube (move them away from RSS feeds though please, hard to find). I signed up for the RSS feeds to the blog, which is currently just awful in its design, but is at least updated regularly. Actually, it appears that someone broke the front page of the blog, but if you go to page 2 it is okay. Either way, the design lacks class. Lastly, the header picture, I like it, I really do. The font, the backdrop of people, the candidate, I really like it.
(Having finished this blog post and going back through it, I would have to say that right now Richard Moore has the best site in North Carolina politics. Note that I am saying this as someone who assumed they would support B.P., although I am undecided still).
Michael Munger - A- (last grade A)
Basically same as last time, but not as much fresh content. There also seems to be more of a harsh tone that I associate with Libertarians in his "recent" blog posts. From my last review:
Not a Democrat, but as a loyal reader and poster here at BlueNC, worth a mention. He has donation buttons on the front page (PayPal again), he has an interesting "Visit Every County" page, he has a signature drive Flash graphic (assuming its Flash) on the header, all the standard information links in a sidebar...what's this, Podcasts? Sure enough, including an NPR interview. I'll tell you what, transfer to a real host (looks suspiciously like Blogger), tone down the graphics up top, and you get an A+. As it is, he lacks things like a Flickr page to track your activities, a good calendar, and videos of events - still he gets an A.
Walter Dalton - B (last time N/A)
Senator Dalton has put together a real website since last time. If I were to give this a time-stamp, I would probably call it a 2004 website. Biography, lots of text, no interactive section, no social networking. A "good" site as far as design, but lacking in depth.
Dan Besse - B- (last time, B)
First off, the site is slow, slow, slow, slow. The site hasn't changed much since the last time, except now there are "Action Center", "Volunteer" and "Contribute" buttons on top of the web page. Of course, they DON'T WORK. But, hey, we can't all be perfect. Oh, sorry, YES WE CAN! Dan, get someone to fix those buttons. The news stories now have hyperlinks to the original stories, that's good. There appears to be a blog. I say appears to be because, well, here is the top story.
Yeah, that is white type on a yellow background. Oops. Seriously, I apologize if he has a family member doing his website, because I know how proud I would be if my son did my website, heck I'm proud when he makes his own Peanut Butter & Jelly sandwiches - but he's also 5. I actually knock this site down a peg because so much isn't working, otherwise it might have climbed into the "A-" range.
Hampton Dellinger - B+, same as last time.
Pretty much the same as it was last time. A big donate button, an easy way to sign up for "updates". There are some new things. The "Manage HD for LG" idea is interesting, maybe I missed it last time or else it is new.
Hampton wants your input on the most effective use of campaign resources in your area. Should the Dellinger Campaign buy bumper stickers, or yard signs? On which radio and t.v. channels should we advertise? How about local papers and internet sites? The Dellinger Campaign welcomes your input at OurCampaign@HDforLtGov.com.
The RSVP link is a bit odd, no actual events, just asking you to chip in $4000 for an event "near you". The photos page is....cheesy, and it doesn't take advantage of something like Flickr or Photobucket where social networking could be tied in. The pictures are static, they don't take you to a description of why he was there, etc. The news section hasn't been updated since January. All in all, not bad, but not good enough to break into the A category, again this is a 2004 election site.
Pat Smathers - A- (last time, C+)
Big improvement for Pat, I think this guy is serious. ; )
Not only has his website become top-notch, with all the things I'd like to see, but Pat even has a YouTube account . However, someone has to work on the sound quality for the next event. The link for Pat's online journal still takes you to his BlueNC account, which I like - obviously. All in all, a HUGE improvement. Add more video, picture, and write-ups about the massive number of events you have been doing, and this leaps to the top of candidate websites in NC. Oh, except one thing. On a press page, when you link to a photo of yourself, it shouldn't be THIS. It should be a big, high-res image for republication.
Speaker Joe Hackney - D (last time C)
No changes since the last update, so I dropped his grade.
Our new speaker has one of those Dreamweaver sites I was talking about. The news is occasionally updated (his election in November and his Speakership in January are the last two events), he has lots of contact info, including his personal email and information in Spanish. His links are updated, including the "Bills" he has submitted, which is pretty good. Regardless, not quite a B.
Speaker Pro Tempore William L. Wainwright - F- (last time F)
No website. Tsk, tsk.
Majority Leader Hugh Holliman - F- (last time F)
No website. Tsk, tsk.
Verla Insko - C
I have to take some responsibility for the lack of change here, Verla asked me a long time ago if I knew anyone who built websites that might be interested in working on a new site for her. So, anyone interested?
Senator Marc Basnight - F
Senator Charlie Smith Dannelly - F
Senator Tony Rand - F
As for the Republican leadership.
Fred Smith - A
This Republican has a great site, ready-made from what someone has said. Either way, he spent some money and got a good site. Interestingly, the hidden text that appears on google when you search for the site says this:
Fred Smith (R-Johnston) will face off against Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue (D-Craven) in the race for NC Governor in 2008.On the Republican side, ...
Republican Leader Phil Berger - Has a site.
Deputy Republican Leader Tom Apodaca - Has a site (with glamour shot).
House Minority Leader Paul Stam - Has a site.
All in all, a few good changes, but no one in North Carolina REALLY looking to take the mantle of "Netroots candidate". Of course, I didn't cover Larry Kissell, who qualifies as a Netroots Candidate by the virtue of being...well, a Netroots Candidate. We still have no one running against Elizabeth Dole, so that would be the other website I would like to see. Looking back on what I've written, I have to say that Richard Moore is positioned to become the netroots candidate for Governor, but there hasn't been any attempt on the part of his campaign to do it. Actually, I believe that his campaign was sockpuppeting here on BlueNC at one point, posting negative stories about Bev Perdue. Still, an early faux pas should not discourage him from taking what is an excellent website and turning it into a web PRESENCE.
I have several hopes for the blogs in North Carolina come 2008.
- We find a candidate to run against Elizabeth Dole who embraces the internet and uses is as effectively as Webb and Tester to corral national attention and dollars.
- That Les Merritt becomes the Republican against which we run an insurgent netroots campaign.
Governor, great. Lt. Governor, sure. But, who the heck knows anything about the State Auditor? Well, what if we change that? What if the Democrat who comes out of the primary has the internet firmly on his/her side? Activists filming every Merritt event, bloggers posting constant updates on his doings and "undoings". Positive coverage of the events/policies/happenings revolving around the Democratic candidate.
How much name recognition can we bring to the candidate? How much negative press can we bring to Merritt? Things like this from the NCDP:
Republican State Auditor Les Merritt’s website explains that the Auditor’s office exists “to ensure that our state government executes its management responsibilities in compliance with applicable laws, rules, regulations, and policies.” [http://www.ncauditor.net/webproject/default.asp?intro_full]
But when it comes to his own business affairs, Mr. Merritt has a hard time following the law.
When he’s not working as State Auditor, Mr. Merritt is the president of LDC Mobile Estates, Inc. State law requires all corporations to file an annual report with the Secretary of State’s office.
But Mr. Merritt has failed to submit required paperwork and now his annual reports for 2004 and 2005 have been rejected. It also appears that his annual report for 2006 will soon be rejected as well. [http://www.secretary.state.nc.us/corporations/AnnualReportCount.aspx?PItemId=6457211]
“Mr. Merritt expects others in government to be meticulous in filing reports,” said NCDP Chair Jerry Meek. “Perhaps he should practice what he preaches. Either Mr. Merritt is incompetent, or he just doesn’t believe in following the law. Either way, voters should be worried.”
Webb, Tester, and even Lamont were national wake-up calls that the netroots is for real and that Web 2.0 can be the downfall of old-fashioned, "macaca" politics. Now, we need to bring this message to North Carolina and I think a Senate seat and an Auditors seat would do just that.