Mutually Assured Destruction had a great diary today about Obama securing votes from elderly Floridians -- how Hillary helped convert them and how John McCain assured them not to vote for him. The point of this diary isn't to simply note that diary. Nope.
The diary, however, reminded me how easily forgotten the rest of the ballot can be. I can't say that Floridians in Tampa Bay, Florida in general or elsewhere in the country are aware that there vote counts on more than just the presidential election. And it's vital in those down-ballot races for that matter.
While people are sold on Barack Obama, how many of them are aware of or participating in the down ballot races?
The reason why I pointed to Mutually Assured Destruction's diary in the opening wasn't to single him out and that instance. It was actually the reference to "the bay area" -- namely Tampa Bay (insert appropriate GO RAYS remark here). Being a Tampa Bay resident and a participant in local politics through online campaigning and what not -- I take the down-ballot races seriously.
It's been echoed on Daily Kos and elsewhere on the blogosphere that Barack Obama will have coattails this election cycle... Yet through an online discussion on a local extension of an international message board (Skyscraper City, their Tampa-St. Pete forum) I was reminded that many locals don't know down ballot races or other candidates for office. Only the most volatile or most pressing are getting the focus of voters of all ages and that disturbs me. It's part of the reason local congressional districts in the heart of Tampa Bay aren't in play -- underexposure. It also holds true for local offices such as County Commission, supervisor of elections, and so on and so forth.
Under exposure. Non exposure. Sheer ignorance of the voting population that has tuned out to the repeated political ads. My guess is this isn't happening here alone.
So, in a simple yet possibly effective manner, the local DEC's have come together to launch Vote Local Now in the Tampa Bay area (representing Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties) in order to give more face time for local candidates and the down-ballot races that may very well be settled by the coattails of Barack Obama.
Case in point, State Representative in Florida House District 48. In 2006, Carl "Z" Zimmermann, the Democrat in the race, lost his election by less than 1500 votes in a heavily Republican district of the county.
1500 votes, folks, between getting a Democratic voice in the heavily GOP state legislature. Carl is running again, against now-incumbent Republican Peter Nehr. Nehr has the financial edge but Zimmermann has broad appeal and the endorsements of both local dailies (the St. Pete Times and the Tampa Tribune).
This is a huge example of why awareness in your local races throughout the nation is MANDATORY. While the Obama campaign and his advisers (as well as many of his supporters here online) warn against complacency, the same must be said about only focusing on one race on your ballot.
Vote Local is also represented on Facebook (groups for Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties in Florida can be found) and what you will find on these group pages are simple ways to remember the candidates -- their campaign signs. Videos of each candidate and positions going out to page subscribers on the social network. As far as I know it's a first-of-it's-kind means to remind people of the down-ballot races.
This is just my local example of trying to raise awareness. My local story (and I am not involved in Vote Local Now, I am simply voicing my endorsement of the concept) is just one small example (on a national scale) of how the profile of downballot Democrats need your focus and support. You know who you are voting for (and many of you have already partaken in early voting). Now get to know the rest of those that will need your support on election day. Or make sure those who are undecided / finally coming to a decision on the presidential race start finding out about the other local races... Because Democracy begins from the ground up, though it can surely gain a boost from the top down on election day.