Last week, I suggested that Jon Henke would make an excellent ambassador to the blogosphere for the George Allen re-election campaign. Perhaps someone in Senator Allen’s office noticed the post, but they certainly made the right decision whatever the reason. The Allen campaign has hired Jon to be its Netroots Coordinator:
I’m very happy to announce that I’ve accepted a job as Netroots Coordinator with the George Allen Senate Campaign.
Obviously, this will change my focus quite a bit, but I will continue to blog at QandO whenever possible, generally on the issues and stories in this very important Virginia Senate race.
Naturally, as a Netroots Coordinator, I’ll be working directly with bloggers and readers who support George Allen. If I can help any of you, don’t hesitate to contact me.
I want to make a couple of observations about this decision, which delights me for personal reasons; Jon and I started blogging about the same time and have occupied each other’s blogrolls since the start. He’s also a terrific guy and a great blogger, and I’m excited about his success.
First, Jon isn’t a doctrinaire conservative by any means. Jon calls himself a neo-libertarian, which I interpret as a Libertarian with common sense. His blog, QandO, has espoused positions that do not match easily with mainstream Republican thought, but show Jon’s individualistic and non-dogmatic approach to politics. The fact that Allen and his campaign see Jon as a fit tells me that Allen does not dictate ideological purity but instead aims for competency and intelligence in his staff decisions — a quality I had not expected, and one I appreciate.
Second, while I think the realization came a little late, Allen now knows how important the blogosphere will be in elections from now on. This epiphany seems slow to arrive with some politicians. Hillary Clinton hired the well-respected Peter Daou for her campaign. Not too many others have done anything similar. Both Clinton and Allen face re-election in the midterms, but one suspects that Jon and Peter will continue to stay on staff if their new bosses win their elections to prepare for the presidential campaign.
Lastly, one should note Jon’s commitment to full disclosure. He will not give up blogging at QandO, but plans on putting a disclaimer on every post he writes, reminding readers of his status with the Allen campaign. It’s no surprise for those of us who know Jon, but it should serve as a standard for all other bloggers to follow.
Congratulations to Jon on his new job, and congratulations to the Allen campaign for their smart and open-minded selection of the best candidate for the position.
UPDATE: Danny Glover at Beltway Blogroll claims some credit for this development, too. Ah, what the heck … we can share!
Jon got off to a good start on his new job with this post about George Allen’s efforts to assist black colleges to upgrade their telecommunications infrastructure. In fact, his legislative efforts were so successful that the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund planned to give him their Thurgood Marshall Award for his efforts. Those plans got hijacked by Allen’s political opponents:
This wasn’t just any bill for Senator Allen. He introduced the bill and spent multiple years getting it through Congress. This was a project for which Senator Allen worked hard. The Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund obviously recognized that contribution and so they decided to give Senator Allen the Thurgood Marshall Award.
That is how things are supposed to work: cooperation, results. Unfortunately, it’s campaign season, and the Democrats don’t see it that way. (see Shaun Kenney for details on that)
When confronted with the prospect of Senator Allen getting an award for the actual work he’s done in “support of public Historically Black Colleges and Universities”, Democrats took political hostages. A quick pressure campaign was mounted culminating in threats to withhold donations. Not to withhold donations to Senator Allen…to withhold donations to the schools.
Rather than allow the Thurgood Marshall Scholarship Fund to recognize Senator Allen’s support for historically black colleges, critics used school funding to play blackmail. And rather than let the students be held hostage in order to score Democratic political points, Senator Allen has decided to decline the award.
Allen spent several years championing this legislation and rather than acknowledge the bipartisan efforts Allen made on behalf of African-American students, the Democrats attacked the schools to perpetuate a myth of Allen as some sort of racist. Read all of Jon’s post.