Bloggers become hot political commodity

The media feeding frenzy on Yearly Kos continues.

Writes Jeff Zeleny in The Chicago Tribune:

His handle is Teacher Ken.

By day, he teaches social studies at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in the suburbs of Washington. By night, he is a political blogger.

These facts alone may hardly be worthy of mention, but take a look at his e-mail in-box, read the correspondence with at least one Democrat considering a bid for high office, and a question arises: Are Ken Bernstein and legions of his fellow bloggers becoming political ward bosses of the new age?

"I consider Tom, at this point, a friend," he said. "It’s not governor. It’s Tom. And I like the fact that he is engaging the blogging community."

The person on the other end of the friendly dialogue is Tom Vilsack, the Iowa governor, who is one of nearly a dozen Democrats eyeing the 2008 presidential race.

Not long ago, the early stages of a political season were reserved for potential candidates to travel the country, perhaps stopping to woo a county chairman in Ohio, court a mayor in New Hampshire or visit a union leader in Michigan.

Now, Teacher Ken and other leading online activists are just as likely to find a spot on a politician’s dance card, which they did here at the first convention of liberal bloggers. The teacher invited the governor to share the stage with him Saturday at an education panel, and Vilsack accepted, eager for an entree into the blogosphere.