42, blogger, Houston
Take it from us: Print is so not dead, and all these “online journalists” are just a bunch of DIY wannabes without credentials or credibility. Some of them even have an agenda! But Kuff (which is what everyone calls him) is different. More substantive. More authoritative. More, well, like us. Kidding aside, he’s one of many Texas bloggers who are every bit as professional as those of us in the MSM, but we’ll confess that we’re partial to this New York native, who graduated from Trinity University with a degree in math and did a blink-and- you’ll-miss-it stint in graduate school at Rice University (he’s still a member of the Marching Owl Band). Since 2002, he’s been the driving force behind Off the Kuff, now the state’s longest continuously published progressive political blog; his other blog, Kuff’s World, has been featured on the Houston Chronicle’s Web site since 2006. Unlike many digital diatribers, Kuff (who toils by day as a BlackBerry administrator for a large energy company) plays it straight, delivering Houston news and commentary on everything from city council races to the lowly Astros in the same measured, reasoned, only occasionally outraged voice. He’s a fun read and a smart read and, increasingly, a gotta-read.
A Web Exclusive Interview
Do you anticipate 2008 to be a big year for left-wing Texas bloggers?
I expect 2008 to be a very busy year for the Texas Progressive Alliance, and for progressive bloggers in general. We have a lot to be excited about, from the many elections of interest to Netroots Nation being in Austin to finding new ways to influence politics and policy in Texas. Add in a cast of heroes and villains, and a palpable sense that we’re on the cusp of something big, and it’s easy to get swept up in it.
Obviously, the elections themselves are a huge deal, and will demand a lot of our time and attention. We’ve got a vast number of qualified and unashamedly progressive candidates running. Here in Harris County, every countywide race has a Democrat running, which is something we haven’t seen in years. This year, the mood is for change, and progressive Democrats are the agents of that change.
You’re the Vice Chair of the Texas Progressive Alliance, which will raise money for Democratic candidates through TexBlog PAC. Why did you commit to the group?
Just a matter of putting my money where my mouth is. The best way to bring progressive values to government is to elect candidates who hold those values. The best way to get those candidates elected is to ensure they have the resources that they need to run a competitive campaign. It’s that simple.
How unified is the liberal blogging movement in Texas? What has helped bring you all together?
It’s fairly unified. We certainly agree on the big picture, which is the need to change the course of Texas politics, at every level, in a more progressive direction. But as with any group of dedicated and opinionated people, we have plenty of disagreements. The key is that we’ve been able to keep our eyes on the goal. It probably helps to some extent to be the opposition. We have a common enemy that we want to vanquish, and that makes it easier to focus.
What 2008 state race will you focus on the most? The U.S. Senate race between Sen. John Cornyn (R) and State Rep. Rick Noriega (D)?
I certainly expect that the Senate race will take up a lot of my time and energy, but that’s a question I can’t really answer. It’s like asking a newspaper reporter what stories he expects to cover the most this year. It helps if a candidate is good on issues that matter to us, and makes an effort to keep us informed about what they’re saying and doing. Screw-ups are great blog fodder as well.
Many of us like to spend time on lower-profile races as well. One reason why I decided to blog more about state and local politics and less about national stuff was that I recognized there was a large pool of talented folks writing about national issues, but almost no one talking about what was going on in my own back yard.