It’s that time of year again. Nominations are now open for the best of the blogs and online activism on the left in Florida.
A multiple-award winner last year, I have some pretty strong opinions about which Florida-based blogs/bloggers are worth a damn. What follows are a listing of the categories in this year’s Netroots Awards and who I will be nominating in said categories. Keep in mind that last year’s winners can not be nominated again (a silly rule which I will have to talk to my good friend Kenneth Quinnell about). Here goes:
Best National Blog: Blogs written by Floridians that covers primarily national politics. (Last Year’s Winner: The Reid Report) Quite honestly, I have yet to come across a Florida-based blog that covers PRIMARILY national politics that comes close to being as good as last year’s winner, The Reid Report. Correct me if I am wrong, but the difference between Joy Reid’s blog and the rest of the presumptive nominees is as start as night and day. For that reason, I am refraining from nominating any blogs in this category. I reserve the right to update this section if someone can show me a site deserving of the award.
Best State Blog: Blogs about statewide politics in Florida. (Last Year’s Winner: FLA Politics) Of course I nominate SaintPetersBlog in this category and will try to show some humility by not explaining why other than to say what I’ve said before: there is what I do and there is what the rest of the Florida blogosphere does. But just because I am nominating myself does not mean I do not think there are other worthwhile sites deserving of recognition. I nominate Beach Peanuts for the passion of the writing found there. I nominate Pushing Rope because of the author’s intellectual audacity and the frequency of new material.
Best Local Blog: Blogs about city/county/regional politics in the state of Florida. (Last Year’s Winner: Saint Petersblog) No I am not going to nominate my BattlegroundTampaBay.com site. It’s not there yet, so don’t worry. But I do have two strong nominees for this category. I nominate The Ybor City Stogie. The Stogie is the most complicated, in-depth site, but it is unabashedly progressive and it is wonderfully local. The Stogie’s ongoing series’ ‘Tampa Bay Homeless‘ has, with its haunting minimalism, developed into the most thought-provoking ongoing series published on Florida’s blogosphere. I nominate Rick’s Blog because the author’s ongoing coverage of the BP Oil Spill’s impact on the Panhandle is about as good as anything else you’ll read on the subject.
Best Media Blog: Blogs written by professional journalists at Florida publications. (Last Year’s Winner: Politifact Florida). The St. Petersburg Times’ Buzz blog is the gold standard for professional political blogging in Florida, but, pound-for-pound, the Jacksonville Times-Union‘s site, although not particularly well-organized, is worth a nomination.
Best Professional Blog: Blogs written by state or local political parties, candidates or party operatives in Florida. (Last Year’s Winner: Doug Tudor) I am really not sure about which blogs qualify in this category, so let’s table this one.
Best Party Website: Best Florida-wide website associated with a political party or political party unit (such as a caucus or coalition). (Last Year’s Winner: Democratic Veterans Caucus) Certainly it has the most resources available to devote to a website, but the Florida Democratic Party’s relatively new website was so overdue that I just have to nominate it.
Best Candidate Website: Anyone running for statewide or local office in Florida can win this one. (Last Year’s Winner: Alan Grayson) Since last year’s awards were posted in July, that means any of the candidate websites that were in play during November’s election are still eligible. So I nominate Kendrick Meek’s Campaign Website for a consolation prize because of the site’s clean design features. I nominate Patrick Murphy’s Campaign Website for how professional and well-organized the site is for a first-time candidate’s campaign.
Best Local Party Website: This one is for Florida DECs, clubs or local chapters of statewide caucuses or coalitions. (Last Year’s Winner: Pinellas County) Finding a suitable nominee for this category is going to take more research, so let’s table this one.
Best Interest Group Website: Any Florida-based nonparty activist, charitable or grassroots group. (Last Year’s Winner: Hands Across the Sand) This may be one of the most competitive categories because there are several strong possible nominees. Two of the absolute best are the absolutely effective Pink Slip Rick and the equally as powerful Progress Florida.
Best Writer: Anyone whose writings is published at any of the above websites is eligible for this one. Winners should have one or more of the following qualities: good grammar and presentation, provides original reporting, has a good sense of humor, shows creativity, has a strong personal touch, or has an effect on the real world because of their writing (Last Year’s Winner: Dan Tilson) Undoubtedly, there are several deserving nominees in the category, including yours truly, but I nominate Ben Kirby from the Spencerian because EVERY SINGLE POST HE WRITES IS WORTH READING. I am not exaggerating, I stop and read every Ben’s work every time it pops up in my Google Reader. He’s that good. Of course, I nominate Joy Reid of The Reid Report because she just may be Florida’s best political writer, professional or otherwise, this side of Carl Hiaasen.
Netroots Candidate of the Year: The Florida candidate at any level who has best incorporated the Netroots into her/his campaign and done the best job of treating Netroots activists as valid constituents and not just another group of people to exploit. (Last Year’s Winner: Alan Grayson) I am sure I could go back and find some Democratic candidate who “best incorporated the Netroots” into their campaign and it’s likely that candidate ended up losing the election. So I am going to look forward and nominate Patrick Murphy because his campaign against Allen West is likely the most important Congressional race in Florida, if not the nation. Yes, Lois Frankel is also running against Allen West but she doesn’t pass the ‘exploitation’ qualifier described above.
Netroots Activist of the Year: The individual who has done the most to advance the goals and activities of the progressive Netroots in the state of Florida. (Last Year’s Winner: Mark Ferrulo) The tyranny of Rick Scott has brought out an entire army of progressive activists who deserve to nominated in this category. But first among these equals is Susannah Randolph, of Florida Watch Action, who has spearheaded the opposition in countless ways.
Rookie Activist of the Year: The individual who has doe the most to advance the goals and activities of the progressive Netroots in the state of Florida who is relatively new to Netroots activism in the state. Anyone who has been previously nominated in ANY category or has more than three years Netroots-related experience in Florida is ineligible for this award (New category) I’m not exactly sure if she is eligible or not, but Siobhan Harley, the wunderkind who ran Bob Buckhorn’s game-changing campaign for Mayor of Tampa, is one of the best young activists working in Florida. President Obama’s re-election campaign should hire her right now. Andrew Cuomo’s 2016 campaign would do well to put her on retainer, also. She’s already a force and she’s not even 25.
Netroots Organization of the Year: The organization that has done the most to advance the goals and activities of the progressive Netroots in the state of Florida. (Last Year’s Winner: Progressive Push) Two words: Progress Florida. It’s done more for the Democratic cause than the Florida Democratic Party, which says a lot about both organizations.
Best New Blogger: This one should go to the best blogger who has been blogging about Florida politics for no more than a year and a half. (Last Year’s Winner: Dan Tilson) Finding a suitable nominee for this category is going to take more research, so let’s table this one.
Best Online Campaign: This is an award for the best use of the web and related technologies to achieve some kind of goal, such as fundraising, fighting legislation or other activism. (Last Year’s Winner: Spill Baby Spill) Certainly Pink Slip Rick will be nominated in this category, but I nominate Incorporate My Uterus because it, on one issue, captured the friction and mean-spiritedness of the Florida legislative session. All while making us all laugh. Don’t discount the millions of hits the website received, either.
Best Use of Twitter: Any Floridian who uses Twitter and whose posts incorporate the following qualities: good use of the language, original reporting, a good sense of humor, creativity, a strong personal touch and an effect on the real world because of their writing. (Last Year’s Winner: Peter Schorsch) The only political writer’s whose Twitter account is approaching Justin Bieber-esque influence is Joy Reid’s @TheReidReport. She frequently tops my list of Florida’s Top Political Tweeters because of her insightful commentary and “personal touch.” I also nominate Eric Jotkoff’s @eric_jotkoff for all-but-single-handedly fighting off the right wing with his often humorous, sometimes vicious, always interesting feed.
Best Overall Use of Social Media: The best use of the various social media sites (Twitter, Facebook and other similar sites) in accomplishing political goals. (Last Year’s Winner: Peter Schorsch) I do not believe this award is limited to an individual, so I nominate Progress Florida because, with its highly-popular Twitter account and its creative micro-sites like the headline-grabbing DirtiHari, the organization helps set the agenda for the Netroots.
Best Post: The best-written post since last year’s awards. (Last Year’s Winner: Daniel Tilson, Florida Progressive Coalition, “Florida Republican Party Rots From Top Down”) It’s a recent entry, but Dan Gelber’s filleting of Marco Rubio’s dangerous comments on Social Security is not only the best-written post of the last year, it’s the most important.
Best Ongoing Series: The best regular feature that incorporates at least five posts since last year’s awards. (Last Year’s Winner: Peter Schorsch, Saint Petersblog 2.0, “Crist vs. Meek vs. Rubio,”) Finding a suitable nominee for this category is going to take more research, so let’s table this one.
I skipped over a couple of categories, related to radio programs and such, with which I am just not familiar enough.
Florida Progressive Coalition Progressive Hall of Fame: FPC is sponsoring a virtual “Progressive Hall of Fame” that should be awarded as sort of a lifetime achievement award to a person or organization (amateur or professional) that has made a significant contribution towards making Florida a bluer, more progressive state. This award may have more than one recipient. (Previous Winners: 2010 — Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Bob Graham, Mark Ferrulo, Steve Schale, Ray Seaman, 2009 — Dave Aronberg, Mitch Kates, Dan Gelber, Kenneth Quinnell, 2008 — Alison Berke Morano, Susan Smith, Joe Garcia) I am blessed with the friendship of two individuals who have worked tirelessly to make Florida a bluer, more progressive state and deserve induction into FPC “Progressive Hall of Fame”: Darden Rice, who has been a profile of courage on not just one, but two of the most important causes critical to the advancement of the progressive movement – the advancement of gay rights and the protection of Florida’s environment. Rice’s work to-date warrants consideration, bu paired together and in one person there is a true progressive champion. My other nominee is someone far more Machiavellian than Rice, or most anyone save moi, but a staunch defender/enforcer of progressive issues. I am referring to Derek Newton, who is currently the communications director for the ACLU where he has positioned that organization as one of the key leaders of the opposition. Derek has built a career electing Democratic candidates, often in the face of long odds.