Eyes of Argus out, Capital Elector in

Capital Elector plays City Hall monitor

Jason Daniel, power blogger.

Jason Daniel, power blogger.

Photo By Anne Stokes

Lots of people have blogs. But not everyone takes them as seriously as Jason Daniel.

“I didn’t sleep for two days. I was really stressed out, I think that’s why I got so sick,” Daniel explained.

In fact, SN&R wanted to meet up with him around the same time that he launched his new “power blog,” the Capital Elector, early in July.

But that meeting was scuttled after Daniel’s busy life caught up with him—the 34-year-old has a full-time job and two young kids at home—and he developed a killer summer cold. Or maybe it was monkey pox; he’s not sure.

A week later, Daniel was back in the pink and ready to talk about the project, a blog dedicated to local politics, from Lodi and Stockton to Sacramento County and the farm fields of northern Yolo County.

Daniel has enlisted the help of more than a dozen elected officials, political consultants and local gadflies to blog on everything from the Rocklin school board to the Sacramento mayor’s race.

“Blogs like Heckasac and Sac Rag are really great. They have strong readership, but it’s mostly in their own little community. Nobody blogs local government like I do,” Daniel boasted.

For more than three years, Daniel ran the unexpectedly popular Eyes of Argus blog, which established itself as a must-read during Sacramento’s brutal mayoral primary. His “Showergate” posts about allegations that candidate Kevin Johnson once had an inappropriate relationship with a minor even made it onto Channel 13’s morning news show on a couple of occasions.

He started blogging as a way to keep up with the political antics in his hometown of Elk Grove, inspired when Elk Grove activists mounted a recall campaign against Elk Grove City Council members (and sheriff’s deputies) Jim Cooper and Michael Leary.

“I only figured out what a blog was in order to keep people informed during the recall,” he explained. But he soon found there was endless material to write about, the kind of analysis and political drama that wasn’t showing up in the local newspapers.

“I love Elk Grove. But it is the most personal and intense political environment around. There are activists there that will try to ruin you.”

In the new project, Daniel’s dry, cutting humor has made way for more voices and more insider coverage. “You’ve got the personal blog, the collaborative blog; I’m calling mine a power blog—because you’ve got very authoritative voices on there.”

Indeed, one local blogger, Zokuga, called Daniel’s site “The Huffington Post of local politics.”

One of his contributors is political consultant and Yolo County Supervisor Matt Rexroad.

“The Sacramento region really doesn’t have anything like it,” Rexroad said of the Elector. In fact, on Rexroad’s side of the Yolo Causeway, local politics has some solid political blogs. His Rexroad.com and the People’s Vanguard of Davis are both popular and prolific sites. But regionally Rexroad said something was missing. “Somebody had to step up.”

But how does a regular guy, who’s not directly involved in politics or the media, get a bunch of elected officials to read, let alone join, his blog?

He held his hand up to the side of his mouth and whispered, “You know, everyone Googles themselves.”

“They started reading, and some got angry enough to e-mail me.” After many e-mails and coffees, he built himself a posse.

The group leans toward the right, but he’s getting regular posts from liberals like Elk Grove Mayor Gary Davis, and Lodi activist Jane Lea.

“I’m a huge traditional conservative. I’m going to vote for John McCain; that’s a no-brainer.” But Daniel thinks those party lines break down when it gets to local politics. When the Capital Elector got a mention in the Stockton Record’s news blog, Daniel said, “I found one comment saying, ‘Oh, that’s a left-wing blog.’ It really shocked me.” He thinks the liberal tag got put on him partly because of this coverage of the Sacramento mayor’s race. He got a call early on from the Heather Fargo campaign, offering to give him a lengthy interview. He jumped on it and posted the transcript and a recorded podcast of the discussion.

But he says he was criticized for not ripping into the mayor. “Here I am, a traditional conservative, but of course I’m going to talk to her. And I got criticized for it, like I was kissing her a—.”

But that’s the beauty of local politics, Daniel said. “Anybody can blog about national politics and nobody will care. You start talking local politics, and it gets a little more dicey.”