Politics in cyberspace
happens when a computer whiz with a penchant for the outdoors
decides to tackle politics? Brad Udall, creator of one of the first
on-line political action committees, hopes he can influence the
composition of the next Congress.
the footsteps of his father, former Arizona Rep. Morris Udall, and
his uncle, former Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, Brad
Udall quit his engineering job in order to help elect candidates
committed to "a West increasingly based on services and technology
rather than the extractive industries."
New West Network targets anyone who recreates on public land, from
hunters and anglers to skiers, kayakers and mountain bikers. "They
are truly environmentalists at heart but they have been lost from
the fold," says Udall. So far, however, many of the PAC's 400
members are college students.
Udall's PAC works
this way: He writes e-mail memos outlining key races that affect
public lands throughout the West. Then he sends them to people on
his electronic Rolodex, inviting them to join his network. If they
say yes, they also agree to consider making at least two donations
to candidates endorsed by his network. Checks get mailed to his
PAC; he consolidates the contributions before passing them on to
candidates. Like an on-line chainletter, Udall also asks network
members to send his memos to their friends.
Udall's network recently announced six endorsements (including
Democratic candidates for the House Dan Williams of Idaho and
Michela Alioto of California) which were chosen by an advisory
committee. Eventually, Udall hopes to let members choose the
network's endorsements by an e-mail vote. Says Udall, "The whole
thing is so far ahead of the Federal Election Commission, it's not
The New West Network can be reached at