Nedheads Pay Homage To The Kos

by Paul Bass | May 21, 2006 11:00 PM | | Comments (3)

At left, Ned Lamont, newly ascendant challenger to U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman. At right, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga, aka “Daily Kos,” the Super Blogger who made Lamont a national phenomenon. The two, along with their net-savvy followers, descended on New Haven’s Playwright Pub and Restaurant Sunday evening to celebrate and plan their next moves.

The 34 year-old Zuniga, who lives in Berkeley, California, is the celebrity of the barely above-ground political blogger revolt. His blog receives between 500,000 and a million hits a day. It has become a nerve center for activists determined not only to oppose the Bush Republicans but to purge the Democratic Party of Bush-leaning conservatives like Connecticut’s Lieberman. Sunday’s event was originally scheduled as a signing Crashing The Gate, a new book Zuniga co-wrote with fellow blogger Jerome Armstrong as a call to arms for progressives “redemocratize America” by taking control of government away from establishment insiders.

The event assumed a second purpose because of its timing. The Daily Kos (pronounced “coace”) generated thousands of volunteers and donors natonwide to Ned Lamont’s campaign. And on Friday night Lamont pulled off an historic feat — capturing an unheard of 33 percent of delegate votes at a state convention against a three-term incumbent senator, twice as much as he needed to force an Aug. 8 primary. So the 75 to 100 bloggers and progressive activists — almost all both Kos and Lamont devotees — came not just to toast Kos but to celebrate the Lamont convention success.

Zuniga said he hears about the Lamont-Lieberman race everywhere he travels to promote the book, from Salt Lake City, Austin and Louisville to Tallahassee, Raleigh and Chicago.

“The entire country is watching,” he said. “We have lost our way as a party. Joe Lieberman has led the way in leading the party astray.”

The issues on which Lamont departs from Lieberman — the Iraq war (against), Bush appointees like Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez (against), universal health care (for), tax cuts to the rich (against), the Dick Cheney-authored energy bill (against) — mirror the agenda at the heart of Zuniga’s call for remaking the Democratic Party.

Zuniga termed the so-called Nedheads “an inspiration to this country, to good people everywhere. I don’t want to put any pressure on you guys, but don’t screw it up.

“Not screwing it up” means taking the momentum from the convention success, harnessing the thousands of volunteers, and organizing a major league campaign to go up against Connecticut’s most skilled statewide politician. Campaign manager Tom Swan (pictured) said at the Playwright event that the Lamont forces are doing just that.

The petitioning process gave the campaign a good organizing start, Swan said. Before they discovered they earned enough delegate votes at Friday’s convention to win a primary ballot spot, the Lamont forces were gathering petition signatures. Close to 1,000 volunteers petitioned. “We talked to well over 10,000 registered Democrats.” The campaign has field offices in all five U.S. Congressional districts in the state. Now it plans to hold house meetings statewide, beginning after Memorial Day.

Also, the organization, which has the potential to raise millions of dollars from grassroots progressives over the web, holds a vote of its members this week on whether to endorse Lamont. If the vote goes Lamont’s way, that should provide a fresh crop of cash. With Lieberman already raising over $7 million, and outspending Lamont 3 to 1, that cash is needed.

Lamont, who’s a multimillionaire (estimated worth exceeding $90 million), ponied up another $500,000 of his own cash to campaign on Friday, bringing that total to over $1 million. Said Lieberman spokeswoman Marion Steinfels, “the Greenwich multi-millionaire made it official: he’s going to try to buy this Senate seat.” The Lamont campaign has responded to that accusation with two points: Lieberman has far more money, raised largely from corporate interests. And Lamont has raised small donations from thousands of everyday people across the country.

Zuniga’s and the crowd’s energy rubbed on Lamont when it came his time to address the Guinness-fueled crowd in the Playwright’s back room.

“We pushed the gate open a little bit,” he told the crowd. “It’s time for the government stay out of our bedrooms, stay out of our churches, stay out of our bedrooms — and leave us alone!

“There are now 63 lobbyists for every Congressman in Washington. They’re not looking out for the common good….

“People are standing up. They now have voice. The internet is giving them them voice. There are not filters. These two guys” — Zuniga and Armstrong — “are making campaigns like this possible.”

 So are Connecticut’s bloggers, including Kelly Monaghan, whose site My Left Nutmeg is the state’s version of The Daily Kos. Monaghan’s site has played a central role in lining up support for the Lamont campaign, even though it operates independently of it. My Left Nutmeg co-organized the Playwright event Sunday along with Democrats for America, which grew out of Dean for America (necessitating no acronym change).

Besides coffee, the web site splurged for cookies.

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Posted by: TrueBlueCT | May 22, 2006 1:13 AM

CT is ground zero in the battle for the heart and soul of the Democratic Party? Incredible!

A simple thanks to the New Haven Independent for their passionate community reporting. The internet will be here long after the death of the New Haven Register and its corporate masters!

Posted by: Maura in Stamford | May 22, 2006 5:38 PM

Just one quick comment -- did not raise millions of dollars on the Web for Howard Dean's campaign. ran an online primary in 2003 and Howard Dean won it, but not by a high enough of a percentage for Dean to win money from MoveOn. They were supposed to hold another "runoff" type primary, but they never did. went on to raise millions online, as did Dean for America. But MoveOn did not raise millions for Dean. Dean for America raised that money online themselves, not from MoveOn.

Posted by: Sam | May 26, 2006 9:59 PM

The editing in this article is terrible. "The Daily Kos (pronounced "coace")"?

check out: ('Kos' rhymes with 'prose')

Also considering running a spell checker ('natonwide') ??

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