While Governor McCrory was doing what politicians usually do to get snow-day news coverage, state Sen. Jeff Jackson was showing how it’s done in a new media world.
Tuesday morning, Jackson (D-Mecklenburg) showed up at the Legislative Building at 8 am and tweeted: “No problem getting a great parking space this morning.”
While McCrory was holding briefings timed for live coverage, Jackson began a series of tweets and Facebook posts tagged #JustOneLegislator.
8:12: “think I’m the only legislator in the building. Let me take care of a few things. Medicaid = expanded. Teachers = paid. Film = jobs.”
8:36: “We just invested heavily in wind and solar energy. I’m moving onto education reform. Any thoughts?”
8:49: “Independent redistricting ✔ Invest heavily in wind and solar ✔Support early childhood education ✔NC is suddenly a national model.”
By now, Jackson was being followed by growing numbers of homebound souls seeking an online escape from cabin fever.
9:28: “Went ahead and got rid of puppy mills. Not sure why that took so long.”
9:39: “Remember that time we eliminated NC Teaching Fellows? Guess what.”
Word began to spread. 9:50: “Am now receiving lots of calls from actual lobbyists. Even the false appearance of power gets their attention.”
10:31: “Hey Charlotte – it’s your airport.”
10:54: “Just had a big debate over cutting the university system even more. Decided not to, because obviously that’s a bad idea.”
He kept his priorities right. 11:32: “I’m hearing there’s no cell phone reception in the press room. That goes on the list, but I’m putting it at the bottom.”
And had the right touch of self-mockery. 12:38: “I just defeated a filibuster because I needed a drink of water. That removes any opposition to new child care subsidies.”
By early afternoon, as his army of followers swelled, Jackson was featured on the national website BuzzFeed. Tuesday night, he got a shout-out from Rachel Maddow on MSNBC.
Today, he’s all over the traditional media. Craig Jarvis and Jim Morrill noted in the N&O/Charlotte Observer: “Tuesday was not the first time Jackson, a former prosecutor from Charlotte, has garnered national attention. Last summer, shortly after he was appointed to fill an unexpired seat, he made a 6-minute speech – caught on video – admonishing Republicans for not giving Democrats a chance to weigh in on or read the budget before scheduling a vote. More than 2.65 million have watched the video and Jackson received comments on it from as far away as South Africa.”
Was Jackson brilliant or lucky? It doesn’t matter. He demonstrated the power of creativity + humor + issues + new media. And that he’s a political power to be reckoned with.