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« Morning Thoughts: Rumblin', Stumblin', Fumblin' | Blog Home Page | How's This For Confidence »

Huckabee's Ball And Chain

Every state has their political junkies. While they would be top political journalists in Washington, these journalists decide instead to be the best in their home states, putting them closer to candidates who might eventually contend for a top spot on a national ticket down the road. When that happens, the local journalists get their chance in the limelight.

Dallas Morning News scribe Wayne Slater got his chance in 2000, with George Bush, as did practically the entire staff of Texas Monthly magazine. Adam Nagourney knows Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani well. And it's anyone's guess why a Massachusetts politician would run for president: Reporters at the Boston Globe and Boston Herald seemingly make their entire living tracking down every last detail about Mitt Romney and John Kerry.

Early states have their top politicos as well: In Iowa, institutional memory comes from the Des Moines Register's David Yepsen and the Associated Press' Mike Glover. In New Hampshire, John DiStaso, of the Union Leader, and the Nashua Telegraph's Kevin Landrigan are top dogs. South Carolina has Lee Bandy, and Nevada has Jon Ralston.

In Arkansas, the top political columnist is John Brummett, a long-time columnist with the Arkansas News Bureau. And with Mike Huckabee finding himself inching up in recent polls, Brummett is getting a lot of national mentions for his Huckmentum coverage. Today, Brummett details Huckabee's knowledge of popular culture, which he suggests comes from his younger days, when he was a radio DJ.

Home-state journalists are important barometers for how the national press will cover a candidate. Brummett has spent years around Huckabee, and when he writes the following sentence, members of the national press corps, until now swooning over the affable former preacher, might think again: "His is wholly a candidate of personality, and, as such, is more Don Imus than Billy Graham." The campaign has to cringe at that one.

As party nominees become more evident, other journalists will become better known nationally for their knowledge of their home state candidates. Pay attention to the coverage they provide. A friendly local press can be the difference between a win and a loss, once again proving Tip O'Neill's maxim: All politics is local.