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Larry Handlin
7023 Dartmouth Ave.
Saint Louis, MO 63130
Phone 314-322-9502

The best blogger on the Illinois political scene lives in Missouri. What’s up with that?

Larry Handlin, 36, of St. Louis, writes “ArchPundit” a daily offering of links, news, rumors and left-leaning commentary that, these days, provides a don’t-miss daily briefing on our state’s frisky U.S. Senate race and other interesting contests.

In his honor, I’ve dusted off and re-tooled a feature I wanted to make a regular feature of my Web log but haven’t gotten around to since the early months

Five Easy Questions.

1. How many different blogs do you write and when did they start?

Currently I write two.

One is the ArchPundit main site which covers Illinois, national and international politics. The second is Blog Saint Louis which covers Saint Louis Metro including Metro East and Missouri politics. They both started in August of 2002. I have three other blogs in the works–one will be personal. One is a creative writing project. The final one is kind of a secret, but related to the upcoming Saint Louis mayoral election that is sure to make local St. Louisans laugh and anyone used to gadflies sending off missives roll over laughing. Of course, they have been in the works for a while so who knows when I’ll actually get them started. I’ve also written for the Political State Report, but that became too cumbersome.

2. How much time do you devote to updating your blogs every day?

Usually I’d say about an hour to 90 minutes. As the election approaches that will increase, but not above the 3 hours I’ve probably been averaging lately.

3. What are your professional and personal circumstances that allow you to have the time to have a real life and such an active blog life?

Well, five year old twins don’t allow me to get out much, so when they go to bed I have free time in which I’m not watching them. In addition, when I have writer’s block, I tend to write a few posts to get my mind clear and go back to writing for more professional purposes. It’s a useful tool as long as I don’t let the blog rule my lifeMy job is in academia doing evaluation research– research to determine the effectiveness of public and non-profit organizations and public policies. Essentially it involves organizational and . effectiveness consulting for non-profits and local governments. At the same time, I am pursuing my PhD in political science concentrating on state politics. I found a need to write more accessible bits and the blog allowed that.

4. Tell us a bit about your past, with a particular emphasis on how you came to be so devoted to Illinois politics.

I grew up in Normal and the biggest influence on my love of politics would be my grandmother and uncle. My grandmother was a devoted Republican who would tell stories about politics for hours and hours. I spent a lot of time with her as my mother was a single mother taking classes growing up.\par \par I grew up listening to her tell me stories about Everett Dirksen and other politicians she’d volunteer for every week. I spent a lot of time with my uncle as well and he was a Republican committeeman in Normal for several years. I’d walk the precinct with him and do literature drops and every election night we’d stay up late and watch the returns.My first election night I remember is 1976 when I was 5. Beyond that, both of my grandfathers were county officeholders.\par \par My grandfather in McLean County was on the County Board for over twenty years, though it was reputed that you only woke him up to vote when he was on your side. My grandmother had all the ambition, but that was before women ran for office. My other grandfather was County Assessor (I believe) for many, many years in Greene County which is just north of the mouth of the Illinois River. While I didn’t spend as much time with him, whenever I visited the farm, we’d talk politics and he was a die hard New Deal Democrat. He’d always say I’d end up a Democrat–he was right.

5. In all modesty, describe your current place in the blogosphere and where you see that place and your role in the future of this medium

I think that along with a few folks like South Knox Bubba and Off the Kuff by Charles Kuffner, I’m the first wave of state politics blogs. While I love talking about national politics, it’s always seemed to me that state and local politics were the areas that could most be reinvigorated by web logs. Larger media outlets have limited resources and even Congressional races are only given cursory coverage. Given our lives are most affected by state and local governments from school boards to state legislatures it seems strange that information about them is the most lacking. I hope that in Illinois, and to a lesser extent in Missouri, my coverage offers insight into those levels of government. I don’t have any pretensions that my site is able to do this all by itself, but I think it may be one of the first to really address those issues and hopefully be a starting point for others.