So this is going to be be fun, I hope.
I'm the Prospect's new "states" reporter, based in Austin, Texas. On this blog, I'll be reporting not only on the big news coming out of state capitals across the country but on the stories from small towns that connect to national debates. Given the fights over collective bargaining in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana and the looming same-sex marriage showdown in Maryland, it's easy to see how state-level news warrants attention.
A little about myself: I've spent the last three years covering Texas politics. Most recently, I wrote for the Texas Observer, covering one of the meanest state legislative sessions in recent memory with horrific cuts to education and other state services. Over the last couple of years, I've covered political corruption, budget wars, and voter suppression. I've also gotten to hang out at six-man football games with the last of West Texas' Democrats, watch the fight over what version of history Texas children should learn, and report on a nasty speakers' race with shades of anti-Semitism. It's pretty exciting stuff, if I do say so myself.
I'm hoping to use the blog as a bit of a reporter's notebook, culling the most interesting news and posting bits of what I've seen and heard. Given the flexibility of being assigned to report "on states," the topics I'll address will probably run the gamut. But I expect I'll focus, among other things, on education fights around the country, battles over health care, and efforts at dismantling collective bargaining. There will be a good dose of politics—the great characters that seem to dominate state fights and the political cultures that set the stage. State politics, I've found, tend to be less rehearsed and less polished (remember Dale Peterson of Alabama?) than national politics, and the outcomes often have widespread, direct impact on state residents (just ask the people of Wisconsin).
It won't all be serious, though. Expect the occasional update on baseball, college football, and television. (For the record, I love the Astros, the University of Texas, and Parks and Recreation.)
With 50 states to watch, I'll be hoping readers will tell me what I should be looking at and watching for. What's at stake in your state right now? What big news is everyone missing? And at the very least, what's happening that's just plain weird? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or catch me on Twitter @RaRapoport.