Maine Politics

From the Piscataqua to the St. John

Thursday, February 03, 2005


From a recent newsletter:
As staff members at the Maine Democratic Party have worked to update the party's website recently, plans for more significant changes are underway. Pat Colwell and Executive Director Rich Pelletier-Simpson have begun exploring what the party can do to make the website a more accessible and engaging tool for Democratic activism.

"With the recent presidential campaign of John Kerry and especially with Governor Howard Dean's campaign, we've seen how a good website can be a powerful tool to connect individuals to the larger network of activists throughout the state and across the country," said Colwell. "It's about time the Maine Democratic Party has a website that really works for Democrats who want to get involved."

Since the party website was first posted in the late 1990's, there have been significantly more user-friendly options made available to organizations that need a website. After the complete renovation, the site will be more visually appealing, easier to navigate, and easier to update.

This is great! The current website is a dinosaur and the Republicans are using the internet much more effectively in this state. For instance, they had a menu on the front of their website during the last election that allowed Republicans to find the candidates in their area and quickly sign up as a volunteer. On the Dem's site, the link to sign up for the state-wide email list doesn't even work (go try putting in your email right now if you don't believe me).

I hope this also means they'll be using a weblog or a similar system to better communicate with democrats across the state. I've seen how well it can work. In just the two and a half weeks this site has been up, I've had emails from prominent Democrats, other bloggers, and members of the media in Maine, the site's gotten thousands of hits and the logs show there's a large and growing number of people that check in several times a day (you know who you are - thanks for stopping by).

Making a website "a more accessible and engaging tool for Democratic activism" isn't just about the software, however. It's going to take a commitment from Democratic leaders to be more open and engaged with the members of their party. Dean didn't get netroots support because he had a cool website, he got it because his campaign manager and members of his staff were willing to actually get online and talk with their supporters.

For an example of how this can work in Maine, one needs look no further than Sam Spencer's open forum he created to discuss the race for DNC Chair, where hundreds of democrats came together to discuss the future of their party. Yesterday, Spencer announced that all four Maine members of the DNC have backed Howard Dean (press release here) - by the way, there's still nothing about that on the Maine Democratic Party site. I hope Spencer continues to communicate with Maine democrats online (one post does not a weblog make) and I hope the rest of the party leadership follows his lead.

Visit the new Maine Politics.



Posted by Andy

2/03/2005 09:59:00 AM


I took your advice and tried to sign up for the newsletter and as you reported, I was unsuccessful. Their little paragraph bio of now Governor Baldacci is from the campaign and has yet to be updated. I would agree with your analysis and would put forward that the party actually has a responsibility to maintain a website and communication tools that would be useful to Maine Democrats.  

Posted by Melissa

2/03/2005 10:56:00 AM


The MDP's portal has always been an abject's rarely updated, lacks contact info, hyperlinks, lose the frames & flash, please!, and when something is posted-it's usually a clunky PDF or Word doc.

I have no idear who they've outsourced (in the past, it was Liberty Concepts), but it's a shame.

During the past election cycle, there wasn't even a hit driven re: basic voter ed. to Gwadowsky's portal (and the "Aug. canvas" info was posted until recently).

Sam's blog is a step in the right direction, but the links aren't activated; and the text formatting becomes jammed (once you hit send/post).

In addition, yes--they need to *interact* with constituents on a blog, vs. posting a couple of entries once in awhile.

Blogs have been around since pre-1998, so it isn't as if they're a "new" innovation.

One cannot post an event on the MDP portal; and I really don't want an HTML formatted newsletter (with stale info, which I've already read).

I'd also add some update deep links to DirigoChoice and MaineCare on their portal--it's no wonder that enrollments are lagging....

'Nuff said--I'll assist with content management...anything would be an improvement!

Posted by mainefem

2/04/2005 03:33:00 PM


I do hope that things will now change with Colwell and Rich in charge. Two years ago I recommended that the state party develop a blog, and the idea was shot down with the argument that Dems shouldn't provide a forum where the opposition could view any dissent or disagreement among party members. Even having it moderated wasn't good enough. Hopefully with the change in leadership, Maine Dems will enter the 21st Century, technologically speaking.  

Posted by MB

2/05/2005 07:42:00 AM


An overhaul of their website is long overdue. However, I think that independent blogs such as yours and mine would still be necessary even if the MDP blog were up and running. Maine had a great number of active liberal/progressive individuals and individual groups (just look at the left-side of, but there doesn't seem to be an online connection between these groups. As far as I can tell, conservatives are better at joining forces when it counts (perhaps the conservative Maine forums are evidence of this, check out: ). Unfortunately, I think that enough people (although not myself) are disillusioned with the Democratic Party that they would be less likely to participate in a blog/forum on the MDP site than on an independant site.

MB, about your point, I agree that they need a blog. However, I also agree that it will probably be overrun with trolls from - that certainly isn't a reason not to have one though. 

Posted by Andy

2/05/2005 10:56:00 AM


I agree with the need for a blog. "Dems shouldn't provide a forum where the opposition could view any dissent or disagreement among party members."???? Any blog is going to be read by people with different political views, is that a reason to keep those views from being discussed and shared? I think not. Daily Kos has a post today by DavidNYC reguarding the lack of blogs that are up to date and accessible from each states Democratic Party webiste: Please see for Maine related information on this project. We all need to join together to accomplish common goals, information is a powerful tool and one that needs to readily and easily available. 

Posted by HC

2/05/2005 12:44:00 PM


I would certainly endorse the statewide blog.

HC has it right there is no need and no way to buffer ourselves from the variety of views that exist out there. The web is the most invigorating populist and progressive force to come along in quite a while.

The changes that have been started at the MDP web site, This web site along with Sam Spencer's and the Maine Progressive have introduced a dynamic and increasingly local element in to Maine' Democratic Party.

It has been great to see.


Posted by Rick Goss

2/08/2005 01:07:00 AM



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