By Ron VandenBoom
The Democratic banner in Montana has been hoisted over the Internet at www.mtdemocrats.org and voters are free to let their mice do the walking through the political web of candidates and news.
Like the Republican website I reviewed last week, the Democratic site gives surfers a 24-hour-a-day chance to learn the latest about their favorite candidate or learn for the first time who the candidates are and what they stand for.
The Democratic home page is slightly more complex than that of the Republicans, but it is still simple enough to all easy access to the areas you might want to visit.
A menu on the left of the screen allows viewers to choose the latest in news, learn about the Democratic platform and find links to related sites or the National Democratic Party.
Other links are available in the text in the middle of the page that also apply to the Montana candidates and the up-coming election.
The first "text" link is for all of the democratic candidates who have filed for the Montana Senate and the second is for Montana House of Representative candidates. The third "text" link is a duplicate link to one on the left of the page Campaign 2000.
Both of the candidate pages will provide the visitor with e-mail links and addresses that can be used to contact those candidates. Not all candidates have e-mail, however, so you may only be able to contact some.
Locally, only John Musgrove and Roberta Demarest, both candidates for House District 91, have e-mail. There are no local Senate seats up for election this year.
The Election 2000 Link takes the surfer to state-wide races that range from the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives and to the race for state office for governor and the Montana superintendent of public instruction.
My only criticism of the Democratic site comes in this area. While the Republican candidates had separate websites that were independent of their currently held political positions, the Democratic sites are all links to the candidates' current jobs Cooney as secretary of state, O'Keefe as state auditor, Mazurek as attorney general, and Keenan as superintendent of public instruction.
I guess at heart I feel the campaign should be separate from the candidate's currently held office and the office should not be used to promote the candidate's political campaign.
Once you've learned whatever you care to know about local and state campaigns, the home page will also offer information on the Mansfield-Metcalf Dinner Feb. 19, and allow you to make dinner reservations on-line.
Other important dates on the Democratic calendar are also found in the calendar "text" link.
The home page also allows you to join the party, learn how to write a "letter to the editor," and, of course, send money.
The Democratic National Committee also has links on this page or the surfer can go directly to the site by typing in www.democrats.org/index.html.
The national site gives all of the latest news regarding Bill Bradley and Vice President Gore and provides links to the candidates' own websites.
Don't stick your head in the sand this election year. Keep abreast of the campaigns and the candidates over the Internet.
Next week, I will examine the Reform Party and some of the other lesser known political parties.