Richardson Supporters On the Web: Early Activity

(March 31, 2006 grab)
America for Richardson
"Growing the Netroots for Bill Richardson, President 2008"

Founded by Ken Bulko of Niskayuna, New York, Jeff Gulko of Virginia, and Emmett O’Connell of Olympia, Washington in October 2005.

Emmett O'Connell (April 30 and May 1, 2006 e-mails)
From what I remember, AFR started out of a conversation I had with Ken and Jeff via the Richardson Yahoo group.  Someone had registered a domain name and wondered where they should go from there.  I chimed in and said that they should start an online community for Richardson supporters using civicspace or drupal.  They never wrote back, but I assume I piqued the interest of Jeff and Ken with whom I developed  At the time I was also blogging at "Will the Wolf Survive" ( ), which I since folded into AFR.

In true online fashion, I have spoken with Ken only once over the phone, the rest of our correspondence has been via email.

I had known about Richardson for a few years, and wasn't much surprised that he was being named as a possible VP for Kerry.  I was probably among the few Richardson supporters who really didn't want to him to team up with Kerry, as I thought Richardson would do better at the top of the ticket.

If I had to define what I like about Richardson, they would have to be his open style (as evidenced in his thousands of town hall meetings), his experience and that he is from the West.  I think Democrats need to get away from the line of thinking that a Southerner is the perfect antidote to our image of Northeast elitists.  The West has so much more to offer.

I've spoken with Gov. Richardson once, during a conference call arranged by his staff around his signing of the paper ballots law a month or so back.  I asked him about the "Western Democrat" buzz the last couple of years and what his favorite baseball team was.

My direct involvement in politics actually began only a couple of years ago during the Dean campaign, I was attracted by the easy involvement made available via the web.  I did the meetups from August '03 to Jan '04, a few house parties and a cell phone bank.  It got me going and excited about what politics could be.

In addition to AFR, these are my other projects: (personal blog) (a sort of issue blog) (I blog there) (ditto) (developed and blog) (developed)

In terms of tweeks to the site, these are a few things we've done given our six month track record:

-Encouraged "(state) for Richardson" sites, which we now link to and have a feed of on our main site.  To that end, we also designed and encourage the use of the "for Richardson button."

-Set up the ability for our users to organize in groups.  I'm going to make some changes so folks have to do less to join, but I have high hopes for this use of the site.

-I took off trackbacks, most of the ones we were getting were spam.

I am 29, live in Olympia, Washington. I am an information officer during the day, and am an active Democrat otherwise.

Ken Bulko (May 2, 2006 e-mail):
We three (Emmett, Jeff and myself) got together informally over the Internet.  Emmett started the Richardson Yahoo group, which I began to read.  After a time, it was apparent to me that Emmett was putting a lot of thought and effort into his posts, so I e-mailed him directly to introduce myself and to find out more.  I did not know Jeff at all, but his name is so similar to mine (he is Jeff Gulko, and I am Ken Bulko), I reached out to him as well.  Having worked with Gov. Richardson back in Washington, he has the best access to the Richardson folks.

I spoke to Emmett one time, as we were figuring out how to get the Blog started.  After that, our communication has been entirely by e-mail.

What are your motivation and experience?

I am 47 years old, and a lawyer and CPA by training, but have run numerous local races (town, county and state) on behalf of Democratic candidates for about 10 years.  I have done well in those races, and feel that I am ready for a bigger campaign.  I am interested in Governor Richardson because I have been following his career for years, and for a variety of reasons, I feel he is the best candidate for President in 2008.  I want to get involved in a significant way in any campaign he might run.  Simple as that.

For example, have you met or worked for Gov. Richardson?  If not when and how did you first become aware of and start to get interested in him?

I met Governor Richardson in July 2004, when my wife and I traveled to Santa Fe.  We were able to secure an appointment with him through our Congressman, who had been friendly with the Governor when they both served in the House together.  We expected to see him for 5 minutes for a quick “meet and greet”, but ended up spending a half hour with him in his office, which was all the more special because our visit was just before the 2004 Democratic Convention, and he was leaving that afternoon to prepare for the Convention in Boston.  Needless to say, we both loved him.

Have you worked on a presidential campaign as a staffer or active volunteer?

I worked for Governor Dean in 2004, as a local MeetUp coordinator and I coordinated getting petition signatures for him in Congressional district.  I was not paid, but was a pretty active volunteer.

Have you done other independent web activity like this in the past?  Are you a blogger of longstanding?

This is my first and only Blog experience.

Anything you've learned during the six months the site has been running?

That there is a lot of support for and interest in Governor Richardson out there. The log started out with most posts being created by one of the three of us (Emmett more than the other two). But now, we have attracted so many new members that it is pretty much self sustaining, in terms of generating content.

Jeff Gulko (April 28, 2006 e-mail)
I served as Special Assistant to Secretary Richardson at DOE from 1999-2001.  Prior to that I served as Deputy Manager of the White House Athletic Initiative Against Drugs at ONDCP from 1998-1999.  Since 2001 I have been involved in Homeland Security and Counter-Terrorism consulting.  I am 29 years old and recently moved from Ashburn, VA back to Boston, MA after 10 years in DC.

I worked Clinton 96, Gore 00, and was a member of the DNC troubleshooting team for the DNC Convention in 2004.