Meet Don Barber (SD-51)
Okay, I'm excited: the netroots buzz around Don Barber, a Democrat running in the 51st SD, has been building for a while. Last night, some of we bloggers decided to take a look at the man himself at an event.
Wait, this is him.
Very impressive, for several reasons. First of all, he's a nice guy, who I'm pretty confident isn't going to turn into an aloof elected aristocrat like some of the GOP senators one might care to mention.
Then, there's his platform: Don is running on a really simple idea that's gotten short shrift in New York for a while: that we're all in this together, that jobs matter, that the yawning gap between rich and poor in this state is scandalous, that we need to take better care of each other and the world we live in. As he says, he grew up on a farm, and it shows: the man is steeped in the values of a small, close-knit community that exercises stewardship of the land. Yes, that matters.
Here's what's really compelling: Don isn't the kind of person that's supposed to be running. He's doing this in a district that is tailored to make running more difficult; it stretches from roughly the geographic center of the state north to Saint Lawrence, west to Tompkins, and south to Dutchess. He also started out with no money, and has filled his coffers with a grassroots surge.
In every cycle, there's a competition between candidates for the affections of the netroots and grassroots at a given level of government. In 2006, Brian Keeler held that pole position for State Senate candidates (and rightly so, because Brian is awesome). This time around, if I had to take a guess at this point, I'd say Don Barber is going to be the marquee grassroots Senate candidate.
On the web: Don Barber for State Senate