Q&A with author Jeff Blodgett: A look at the ‘Wellstone Way’ to win elections

Jeff Blodgett and Bill Lofy of Wellstone Action — a national center for progressive leadership training — have teamed up on a new book, "Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way" to give people considering entering politics a resource for developing an effective campaign strategy. Blodgett will be appearing at Magers & Quinn in Uptown on Nov. 20 to promote the book. He recently spoke with the Southwest Journal about his new project.

SWJ: What is the ‘Wellstone Way’?
Blodgett: It’s a metaphor for running grassroots, people-based campaigns. The Wellstone Way is primarily an approach to politics that involves mobilizing people to help you win your elections.

SWJ: Any examples of the ‘Wellstone Way’ during the recent election?
Blodgett: I think the Obama presidential campaign took the Wellstone Way and made it their own and ran a grassroots campaign on a scale and scope that this country has never seen before. So that was really exciting.

SWJ: How did they make it their own?
Blodgett: First they had a candidate that came around at the right time for this country and offered hope and inspiration, and got tremendous numbers of people excited. They took that excitement and harnessed it well. One of the things they did exceptionally well, which we all can learn from, is the use of technology to organize their base together — everything from a really terrific website, to blogging, to using the different online social networks to reach people and organize people, use of video and sophisticated databases. … It made for a really powerful combination of grassroots politics and new technology coming together to make for a grassroots campaign on a scale and scope we’ve never seen in this country.

SWJ: Any other thoughts on the election?
Blodgett: One of the reasons for the book is that, while it was a great night for our country, there’s still a need for courageous leadership and a new wave of people running for office at all levels. So [election night] was only a start in my view of having a new wave of leaders help get this country back on track. We’re all about continuing to encourage people to run for office, working for good candidates going forward in 2009 and beyond.

SWJ: What else do you hope people get out of the book?
Blodgett: It’s not just about grassroots campaigning, it’s also about politics that connects to people, that speaks to concerns and circumstances of everyday politics, and a politics that has a core conviction at its base. Our view is you can have strong convictions and strong views and take those into elections and win that way if you do it right. We’re looking for people who are really passionate, who really believe in ideas and want to make change. We help them with the mechanics involved in actually winning in an election.

Book reading

Jeff Blodgett, co-author of “Winning Your Election the Wellstone Way,” will discuss his new book and lead a post-election debriefing at Magers & Quinn, 3038 Hennepin Ave. S., on Nov. 20 at 7:30 p.m.