Thursday, May 31, 2007

Congressional Website Bling

Campaigns and issue groups will sometimes make available “blogger bling,” badges, buttons, clever little graphics for bloggers and webmasters to have on their sites to show allegiance.

I started wondering if our elected officials did the same. The state house and senate offer templates with little option for personalization. The parties do the same for elected officials, again with little personalization. Our congressional delegation seems to have more leeway. Some are jazzy, some (cough cough, John Murtha, cough) are as basic as basic can be.

Beyond buttons for Thomas, the website for tracking legislation, I wondered what allegiances our congressional representatives showed. So I looked. There are a great many options for comparing their site but for the purposes of this post allegiances to larger organizations, beyond simple party membership, was the focus. Also, I looked only at what was on the main page and did not delve deeper. Should you wish to replicate this research or simply look at the sites yourself, the easiest way is to use politicspa as a jumping off point – it has a list of Pennsylvania representatives with links to their sites.

Three of our Democratic representatives have badges or buttons on their site for Democratic groups. Tim Holden (D-14) and Patrick Murphy (D-08) are members of the Blue Dog Democrats, though they use different images. Allyson Schwartz (D-13) is part of the New Democratic Coalition. Looking at the membership of each group these are the only Pennsylvanians mentioned. There may be other organizations out there, though, that simply don’t have badges or don’t have any Pennsylvanians.

Should you be wondering, both the Blue Dogs and the New Democrats are moderate groups. Patrick Murphy was named Blue Dog of the week earlier this year. I tend to be a bit skeptical about these things. However, there are 43 members of the Blue Dogs so clearly not everyone can be picked every year, depending on how many weeks Congress is in session. It is also possible that a Blue Dog is not highlighted each week.

Republicans like to announce their membership in caucuses. John Peterson (R-05) displays his membership in the Congressional Rural Congress. Tim Murphy (R-18) is part of the Mental Health Caucus (no jokes please). The lone Dem in the group, Mike Doyle (D-14 ),is part of the Autism Caucus. Having previously looked at Pennsylvanian involvement in caucus leadership I know there are more caucus members out there; that membership just isn’t mentioned on the home page.

John Peterson’s (R-05) site has a blog, though someone else writes the posts. Tim Murphy (R-18) also has a blog but appears to write his own posts, or at least no other authors were implied in the posts I saw.

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