I love Edwards and Obama. I've seen Edwards speak twice and Obama once.
When Edwards spoke, he spoke compelling and clearly about important issues that few politicians talk about, like poverty.
But when Obama spoke, it was impromptu, shortly after Katrina, and it was an audience of liberal lawyers, primarily black. He said something roughly like, "I know we're all happy to see Bush's popularity fall, but I ask myself, what was I doing for the poor of New Orleans before that hurricane? What were you doing?" Modern political rhetoric is so self-congratulatory that I was shocked to hear a politician challenge himself, and challenge me. It was so powerful and honest. That's what leaders do, they challenge you to be more than yourself.
Yes, that's a gift for "communication," but isn't that what a democratic leader does? And it's absurd to call a former President of Harvard Law Review and a professor of Constitutional Law an empty suit, just because he happens to be young and popular.
So there's my baseline. I will no longer consider Obama a leader when he stops challenging himself, and challenging me, to be a better public servant.
Holt had two of the closest races in NJ history in '98 and '00. But then the district was gerrymandered and a chunk of solid-dem Trenton was added. He hasn't faced a tough race since. Holt has other legit reasons to keep a rainy-day fund, but competitiveness is not one of them.
I talked to a woman at the campaign headquarters named Samantha. She directed me to a posting by Rush Holt on bluejersey.net (which doesn't seem to be up yet). She told me about all the different ways Holt has helped out local candidates Stender and Aronson, and about the $100K he gave to the DCCC. When I said that was equal to the dues he owed, she said it would be impossible for Holt to give the full 30% because of campaign expenses incurred even against a token candidate. After about five minutes, it became clear I couldn't persuade her otherwise, but she said she'd pass my message along. In fairness, Holt has been helping out a lot and his district is expensive, and one of the swingiest in the state. And I'd love it if he became our senator if Lautenberg retires in 08.
I think the number you listed for Holt is incorrect. It led me to a busy signal and so I called the number listed on his campaign website, which has a 530 instead of 278.
I think it's important to have one candidate within volunteering range of most netroots, if we can. In MA and northern New England, the obvious choice would be Paul Hodes, who fulfills all 3 listed factors. NH is the perfect new blue state. It's in that awkward transitional stage of blueberty, voting Dem nationally but still loyal to its local Republicans.
A couple more reasons:
NH is not as expensive as most Northeaastern media markets, so some money and attention would make an impact.
NH, especially Nashua, is really wired, so the netroots are in their element.
If the netroots can prove their muscle in NH, it'll give us more weight in '08!