Monday afternoon, a handful of liberal bloggers made their way to Legislative Plaza as guests of Mike Turner. Someone, and I'm not going to name names (though her name rhymes with Schmetsy Schmillips) yelled "Jeff Woods eats his boogers!" into the press room, but I think only Tom Humphrey was around to hear it. And there was a brief scuffle over a chair in Gary Odom's office, which caused Odom to remark that bloggers appeared to be as hard on each other as we are on politicians. Otherwise, the group was well-behaved.
House Democrats briefed us on upcoming races, and whether they just have more folks they feel good about this year or have at least developed a strategy of seeming like they feel good about folks this year, folks seemed genuinely excited by the people running for office for the first time this autumn.
There was a lot of budget talk, too, as you might imagine, and a general feeling that the Republicans needed to start putting some specific ideas on the table. There was also some irritation that, even with all the talk of needing to cut and sacrifice, that there was still money in the budget for fish hatcheries but not for some mental health services.
In contrast to last year's outing, this year many Democrats stopped by to meet the bloggers — Naifeh, DeBerry, Armstrong and Stewart among them. Last year, it seemed to me, the attitude of many Democrats was one of stand-offish hostility (if they knew what a blogger was) or confusion (if they didn't). This year, we were met with genuine curiosity and a willingness to talk.
Anyone who didn't have to run off to a meeting eventually got around to talking about the flood. And I think, honestly, that the online response to the flood — people seeing how quickly information can be disseminated and how effectively people can be mobilized to act — has helped politicians "get it" when it comes to blogging and other forms of social media. That accounts, in great part, for the curiosity on the part of folks. They now have a sense of the online world as more than just a place where kooks gather to complain about them.
So I think it went well. And it was cute when we talked with Mike Turner about his heroic efforts during the flood and the resolution in his honor. He was very grateful to be honored, but he said he just knew he was going to get teased about it by the guys back at the station, and so he was hoping that the attention would die down. Which of course means I have to mention it here, just to prolong the teasing a little bit more.