washington, dc

The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Matt Compton

The Delusion of Journalism Without the Internet

When I was in college, my friends and I were obsessed with a piece of science fiction. Epic 2014 is an eight minute video describing the fall of the Fourth Estate. The story begins with fact — the invention of the Internet, the introduction of Amazon.com, the rise of Google. Then, as the narrative thread moves into the future, the voice lays out a plausible vision of history where Google and Microsoft become the dominant forces in media. In 2014, after losing a major court case, The New York Times gives up, goes offline, and becomes “a print-only newsletter for the elite and the elderly.”
We’re still five years away from that prediction, but according to Paul Farhi — a writer for The Washington Post — there is already a growing movement for newspapers to retreat from the Web. For Farhi, writing for the American Journalism Review, that decision seems to make a kind of sense. He says:

A massive migration back to print would restore some balance to the industry’s crippled supply and demand equation. If there were truly no other place on the Web for readers to get the valuable information that daily newspapers provide exclusively each day – local news and photos, enterprise reporting, columnists, ads from local businesses, etc. – advertising dollars would have to follow.

This line of thinking both confuses newspapers with journalism and assumes that all news outlets share the same interests.
Newspapers — built around business models that did not anticipate the economics of the Internet — struggle to make money online. But it’s only half-true that, as Farhi writes, “online news sites aren’t exactly cash cows.” Sites like TMZ and Talking Points Memo have found ways to make money and cover breaking news (albeit in radically different ways). All the talk of Huffington Post as nothing more than an aggregator ignores the fact that the site employs a stable of reporters who break important stories regularly.
In the world of EPIC 2014 — which so fascinated me as an undergrad — the Fourth Estate exists only as an afterthought. The business of news and commentary is directed by individuals and organizations outside of traditional media and stitched together for publication by the algorithms of technology companies. While the bulk of the media delivered by today’s aggregators comes from newspapers, every day, more and more content is created by those who aren’t traditional journalists. If every newspaper in the United States were to retreat from the Web, it would only create more incentives for media entrepreneurs to find new ways to use the Internet to fill the void.
Luckily, we will never see that kind of coordinated action from the nation’s newspapers. If some go offline or put their content behind expensive paywalls, others will embrace the opportunity to attract new readers. They’ll be joined by news outlets that don’t need to make a profit (like the BBC and NPR) and those who have found new kinds of business models online. The costs of producing news online are so low that it will always make sense for those who are willing to innovate. (Sidebar: In one bullet point, Farhi notes that, “Eliminating Web offerings would save precious dollars now being spent on a product that does little more than undercut the printed paper.” He complains that newspapers have devoted resources to publishing blogs, Twitter feeds, and online video. Yet all these tools are available for use by any individual — journalist or otherwise — for a grand cost of zero. Perhaps a basic economics lesson is in order)
The hard truth that newspapers need to embrace is that their business model is already broken. Craigslist has already killed the cash cow that was the classified ad. An entire generation of readers has come of age without a newspaper subscription. There is no going back to the time that was. The thought that there is a future for journalism without the Internet is a dangerous fantasy.

Rupert Murdoch’s Line in the Sand

When it comes to the newspaper business, nothing draws attention faster than a discussion of free versus paid content. Journalism is full of those who believe that newspapers made a fatal mistake when they failed to demand a subscription from their readers the day they launched their first websites. But even if that were the case, their critics reply, after a decade of serving up free content, there is no way to put the genie back in the bottle.
Rupert Murdoch, though, is willing to try.
On an earnings call last week, the News Corp mogul told reporters and analysts:

We intend to charge for our news websites. The Wall Street Journal‘s WSJ.com is the world’s most successful paid news site and we will be using our profitable experience there and the resulting unique skills throughout News Corp to increase our revenues from all our content.

The new business model, he said, would be put in place over the course of the next fiscal year.
That announcement has spurned no small amount of debate already, but missing from much of the discussion is analysis of what Murdoch’s decision will look like in practice.
The Wall Street Journal has found a successful model for charging for subscriptions online. But its readership is fairly unique — made up of people who can afford to pay a premium for important information and then in turn derive value from that information in their own work. On top of that, online editors at WSJ.com make certain stories available to the entirety of the Internet for free, everyday.
Even the Wall Street Journal can’t escape the dominant business of the Internet — the link economy.
That fact makes it even less likely that an institution like the New York Post will be able to put the entirety of its content behind a paywall. There are simply too many other options for a reader who is willing to look for the same news for free somewhere else. Instead of setting up their own paywalls, Murdoch’s competitors are likely to advertise the fact that their content is completely open. And even if the New York Daily News were to start demanding a subscription fee as well, sites like Gawker — which have found a way to thrive using advertising dollars — will happily continue to churn out tabloid content for all its readers without ever asking them to pay a dime.
That’s the dilemma facing almost any news organization that tries to demand its readers pay for the privilege of accessing its website. There will always be competitors capable of producing similar news, who are willing to publish it for free. And many of them won’t be bloggers or news aggreagators. They’ll be traditional journalists who are willing to innovate.
Vivian Schiller is a former head of nytimes.com and the current CEO of National Public Radio. She ended the Time’s famous experiment with charging a premium for its op-ed page and has since overseen a redesign of NPR.com. She says that she is a “staunch believer that people will not in large numbers pay for news content online.” She is working to position NPR to accept the web traffic of those who try.
Chris Ahearn — the president for media at Reuters — is another believer in free content. He has written that:

Blaming the new leaders or aggregators for disrupting the business of the old leaders, or saber-rattling and threatening to sue are not business strategies – they are personal therapy sessions. Go ask a music executive how well it works.

Murdoch says that News Corp will vigorously defend its copyright against those who would excerpt and link to its content, but Ahearn writes that Reuters believes that kind of attention is fair use and welcomes the traffic it drives.
We shouldn’t write off this experiment before it starts, however.
No one has announced that the News Corps subscription service will function just like that of the Wall Street Journal. Murdoch only said that his company will begin to charge for its web content, and we don’t know the form it will take. Even if News Corp can’t escape the link economy, there is an opportunity for the company to offer different kinds of premium content through all of its online properties.
And this is an experiment whose time has come.
Fred Wilson — a venture capitalist who spends a lot of time thinking about the future of news — wrote that he welcomed Murdoch’s announcement.

We can talk until we are blue in the face about whether people will pay for news or not. Talk is cheap. Actions are not. So I’m eager to see the experiments begin.

Until someone actually launches a serious effort to make paid content work across a network, the arguments about the merits of free media are never going to end. This is a time for innovation in journalism, and News Corps will certainly devote smart people and serious resources to making this effort a success.
That success just might not look like what Rupert Murdoch expects.

In Praise of the Chatty Class

Matt Bai is the latest journalist to join the Twitter backlash.
In a short piece for this week’s Sunday New York Times Magazine, he declares:

If Twitter doesn’t turn out to be just the latest political fad (like, say, psychographic polling, or Ron Paul), then it just may be the worst thing to happen to politics and its attending media since a couple of geniuses at CNN dreamed up “Crossfire” back in the 1980s.

Bai argues that the politicians on Twitter hark back to an earlier era when “American politics was obsessed with the universality of our experience, typified by the enduring cliché of the president with whom you could quaff a beer.”
That’s a surprising and fundamentally wrong-headed view by a writer who has spent a lot of time trying to understand the influence that the Internet is having on politics.
As with so many other things, the content produced by those on Twitter varies. But the best users of the service — like Sen. Claire McCaskill — produce content that is equal parts fascinating and addictive.
Bai dismisses these efforts as attempts at faux-populism. But in reality, they are anything but. They’re intimate and compelling and wholly authentic.
And on the Internet, of course, authenticity counts for everything.
When, Sen. McCaskill tweets about conversations with her children, the feelings she describes are genuine. When she tweets about policy, the positions she takes are clear. And when she talks smack about sports, it is both hilarious and appealing.
The common thread that connects all of Sen. McCaskill’s Twittering is that it reveals a sometimes-intimate and almost-always-appealing side of her personality. It’s a portrait of who she is that we simply do not get for most of her colleagues.
Couple this with the fact that Twitter is not a one-way-street for communication. Sen. McCaskill reads the @ replies that her followers write. She often replies to them in turn. The best Senate offices encourage their principals to draft the occasional reply to a constituent’s mail, but most of the public will never get to see that kind of communication. When we write to a Senate office, we get a form letter (months after the fact).
Twitter makes those replies part of the public conversation. All of us see the importance that Sen. McCaskill places on keeping in touch with her voters back. And the replies are instant — we know the positions she takes the second she posts them.
With all due respect to Bai, Washington would be a better place if more pols (and journalists) grasped the lessons of Twitter.

Tea Parties: Laugh At the Craziness, But Also Watch and Learn

If you’re a progressive who has paid attention to the Tea Party protests, there’s been a lot to laugh about.
First, after weeks of build up, we’ve learned that many of these gatherings were small, and on the East Coast at least, rain-drenched affairs. The Right had been comparing this event to the Iraq War protests, which engaged tens of millions across the globe, and whatever this is, it isn’t that. Nate Silver estimates that around 250,000 people participated, which as we noted earlier puts turnout below the pro-immigration rallies three years ago.
Second, the guy who helped to launch this idea in the popular imagination — CNBC personality Rick Santelli — couldn’t be bothered to attend one of these Tea Parties himself. In fact, he told reporters, “I have to work to pay my taxes so I’m not going to be able to get away today.”
Third, it turns out that a lot of people interested in these protests have no idea that the phrase ‘tea bagging’ has some pretty strong sexual connotations. So much so that FreedomWorks — Dick Armey’s group that has done so much to organize today’s fun — took to distributing flyers at the protests, telling fellow conservatives not to get duped.
And, it is pretty clear that some very traditional powers-that-be in the conservative movement, in an effort to prove their own relevancy, did a lot to make these supposedly-grassroots protests a reality. Brian Beutler, among others, has convincingly shown that this idea was conceived by FreedomWorks and helped along the way by it and organizations like Newt Gingrich’s American Solutions. As we noted in a staff post this yesterday, that’s astroturfing.
But …
We live in a time of hyperconnectivity. Even an event pulled together with extensive centralized planning can take on a life of its own through the Internet. I suspect that’s exactly what happened here.
A search for “Tax Day Tea Party” returns 4,100,000 results on Google. No matter how effort FreedomWorks put into this thing, they could not generate that kind of attention alone.
More telling still, #teaparty is currently one of the most popular hashtags on Twitter and has been for days. As we’ve discussed before, there isn’t a better tool for online organizing, and yesterday’s protests are dominating discussion on the service.
My point is that Democrats shouldn’t dismiss these protests out of hand. While this thing may have begun artificially, it has developed some real roots along the way.
The Right doesn’t have much experience with activism like this, and we’re all learning about the best ways to engage the public in the age of the Internet.
But we dismiss yesterday’s events at our own peril. Conservatives aren’t simply going to wait for the Obama presidency to end before they try to re-assume power. And they’re quickly learning some cool new tricks that we’d do well to study also.

Twitter Shows Its Purpose

Even though DC is all abuzz about Twitter, the service still has plenty of skeptics and even some of its regular users don’t understand its potential.
That is why it is worth paying attention to this week’s political protests in Moldova.
Yesterday, more than 10,000 young Moldovans converged on the capitol in opposition to the Communist leadership after the communists won a recent set of parliamentary elections that some believe were rigged.
The protesters caught the government off guard. They materialized seemingly out of nowhere and reported to no leaders.
This kind of instant crowd formation has a name — flash mobs — and it isn’t a new phenomena. But Twitter and social networks like Facebook make it easier to form these crowds and make them far more adaptive to situations on the ground.
For the most part, before Twitter, communications technology was either broad and immobile or limited and portable.
In 2005, I could send my friends a text message to tell them to join me in a protest — limited and portable. Or I could put my rally cry on a blog — broad and immobile.
Even if every single one of my friends had a cell phone, the network I could reach from the streets of a protest was limited. That shortcoming is even true of email (all the more so because most people still cannot access email on their cellular phones).
Of course, I did have access to a world-wide audience with a blog. But even if I had the ability to update my website as the situation on the ground changed (no sure thing), most of those joining me in protest would not be able to access that information.
That’s the genius of Twitter — the means of targeting a massive audience on the go.
The protests in Moldova illustrate this point perfectly:

[T]he gathering on Monday night drew only several hundred people. The protesters agreed to gather the next morning and began spreading the word through Facebook and Twitter, inventing a searchable tag for the stream of comments: #pman, which stands for Piata Marii Adunari Nationale, Chisinau’s central square.

The government, not understanding the forces at work, responded to the rallies by shutting down the Internet in the capitol city. At that point, the protestors simply began to generate updates using their mobile phones.
In other, less-violent settings, Twitter has the same utility. The immediacy of the format has made it the application of choice for all kinds of real-time events. Users have created hashtags to aggregate comments about moments in time ranging from the presidential debates to college basketball games. Last year, tech-savvy attendees of the Democratic National Convention used the service to navigate crowds, find parties, and meet up with each other. In August, Republican members of Congress organized a “Drill Here, Drill Now” protest on the floor of the House using their Twitter feeds.
All proof that some in DC are starting to get it: Twitter is a powerful tool for political organizing, and its potential is only now being fully realized.

The Curious Case of Culture11

If traditional print media are watching a disaster unfold, then it’s safe to say that conservative media are feeling the first tremors of their own looming crisis.
Sure, Rush Limbaugh — newly re-elevated by his fight with the Obama White House — claims that his numbers are better than ever.

The dirty little secret of conservative talk radio is that the average age of listeners is 67 and rising.

It’s no different on television — the average age for viewers of Fox News is also somewhere in the mid-60s.
On top of everything else (falling advertiser revenues, the GOP’s identity crisis), conservative media institutions have an age problem which they have no idea how to fix.
Last year, David Kuo (the former head of the Bush White House office on faith-based initiatives) and Joe Carter (a Huckabee staffer and blogger) — with backing from William Bennett — decided to start an online magazine. They hoped to find a way for political conservatives to engage popular society in a way that was culturally relevant. If they succeeded, one obvious benefit would be making their brand of conservatism more appealing to younger generations.
Their model would be a conservative version of Slate — a little bit edgy but appreciative of books, TV, and movies.
They hired smart, young writers like Conor Friedersdorf , a journalist and graduate student at NYU; James Poulos, a PhD candidate in government at Georgetown; and Peter Suderman, a blogger and Libertarian.
They called their project Culture11 and quietly launched the site in beta during the late summer.
As Charles Homans reports in the current issue of Washington Monthly:

For a site that took as its starting point a retreat from the political arena, Culture11 actually had a lot to say about the election, and it was generally more eclectic and off-message than what other political publications had on offer as November approached. This had a lot to do with the fact that Culture11’s editorial brain trust was made up of people who had little concern for—or at least needed a breather from—the self-immolating Hindenburg of movement conservatism.

In many ways, it was the act of being off-message that made Culture11 interesting, and sometimes, very smart. But of course their willingness to flaunt conservative orthodoxy so deep into an election year guaranteed that the new magazine created plenty of critics among ostensible ideological allies.
It occasionally even created friction inside its own newsroom:

In December, when a pseudonymous contributor to Ladyblog, Culture11’s “conservative feminist” forum, posted an entry titled “In Defense of the ‘Hook-up Culture,’ ” Carter yanked it off the blog. (“I didn’t like the content,” he later said. “We wanted dissent within the conservative perspective, but to me that fell out of line.”) The move prompted an in-house uproar and an apologetic response from Kuo, reinstating the post but also averring that “Culture11 is a conservative site. We see the world through a culturally conservative lens. As such the post isn’t something that anyone here particularly agreed with. We don’t believe the hookup lifestyle is good for anyone.” (“I think our disagreements were healthy disagreements,” he told me later.)

It seems that there is a natural limit to what even the most open-minded conservatives can tolerate.
Late last month, after weeks of working the phones and crunching the budget, David Kuo came to the conclusion that Culture11 no longer had a future — at least not in its current form. He called his staff and told them that his board of directors had decided to lay them off. Today, the archives are active and William Bennett still updates his blog, but for all intents and purposes, the site is dead.
While it lasted, Culture11 was an interesting experiment. But even at its best, the writers and contributors were a band of insurgents with minimal establishment support and divergent goals and ideological viewpoints.
Was it all doomed from the start?
One of the overriding themes of the modern conservative movement has been its distaste (and occassional hatred) for popular culture (whatever it was at the time). Just as the old lions wrung their hands at Elvis and comic books, so do latter-day conservatives decry Jay-Z and video games.
Culture11 attempted to exist outside that bubble — written by people who listened to Lil’ Wayne, watched movies where people sometimes took off their clothes, and owned iPhones. But even they couldn’t help but feel superior when it came time to discuss their peers. More telling still was the occasional bit of self-loathing they let slip when it came time to look in the mirror.
Look no farther than Friedersdorf’s piece on the music played at his best friend’s wedding:

Our parents unselfconsciously played “Under My Thumb” and “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” during family car trips—we turned out fine! Even gangsta’ rap albums we sneaked in our youth hardly caused us to roll down the street “smoking indo, sippin’ on gin and juice.”
Yet we feel uneasy putting our iPods on shuffle if anyone under 15 is around. What explains this attitude shift? Were the prudes right? Is gangsta’ rap uniquely degraded?

Even while acknowledging hip hop’s cultural value, Friedersdorf concludes the piece hoping for a future where the music enjoyed by his children is less profane. Not exactly a message with a lot of Millennial resonance.
As Culture11 floundered, another group of conservatives led by Andrew Breitbart (of Drudge fame) unveiled their own website with superficially the same cultural-commentary mission — Big Hollywood. The new site was greeted with fairly significant praises in right-wing circles, and it gained traction just as quickly as Culture11 lost its footing.
Desipte the theoretical similarity, the two sites could not be more different. Big Hollywood exists to poke fun at the entertainment industry’s excess while Culture11 made a sincere investment in attempting to create intellectually honest criticism. Even the way each site was designed speaks to their differences. Culture11 embraced clean lines and rounded corners — if the editors of Slate unveiled a redesign with the same look and feel tomorrow, not one reader would bat an eye. Big Hollywood looks like The Drudge Report or the homepage for Fox News.
What better evidence exists that the two sites were meant for different audiences?
Big Hollywood is more chum for the conservative base. Yes, it’s an online outlet, and yes, that means that its publishing schedule is a little different. But its message and even its methods are intended for the Rush listener or the O’Reilly watchers. Which means an audience in its 60s.
Culture11 was an attempt to embrace free-form online modes of expression, find a solution to the youth problem, and force conservatives to think differently about popular culture. Given the difficulty of chewing a bite that size, perhaps its failure was no surprise.
But if conservatives are not prepared to grapple with all three problems now, they’ll be forced to confront the future soon. Demographics is destiny, as they say, and right now, the trends are all going the wrong way.

The Future of the Press

This week, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer printed its last issue. Last month, the Rocky Mountain News ceased to exist. Across the country, newspapers and magazines are cutting staff, reducing coverage, and scaling back.
Journalists feel like they’re living in a crisis, and rightly so. A respected profession that has been supported by a stable, profitable business model for more than a hundred years is about to be upended.
But it’s the business model which has been given the death sentence — not the profession. The end of print is not the end of journalism.
In a brilliant essay published online this week, Clay Shirky writes:

Society doesn’t need newspapers. What we need is journalism. For a century, the imperatives to strengthen journalism and to strengthen newspapers have been so tightly wound as to be indistinguishable. That’s been a fine accident to have, but when that accident stops, as it is stopping before our eyes, we’re going to need lots of other ways to strengthen journalism instead.

The future offers plenty of alternatives — we just don’t know what they are yet.
The newspaper business is dominated by the fact that owning and operating a printing press is an enormously expensive endeavor. Those production costs are so high that newspapers rely on a combination of advertising and paid subscription to turn a profit.
The Internet poses an incredible threat to print journalism because it reduces production costs to nothing. That in turn provides competition for both advertiser dollars and story coverage.
Classified advertising — which used to be the lifeblood of newspapers all over the country — has been replaced by Craigslist. Print journalists are so frequently scooped by online competitors that many newsrooms have shifted their production schedules to meet the demands of the Internet (which means publishing stories online immediately), and it seems like every beat writer in America has her own blog and Twitter feed.
Perhaps no fact better demonstrates the absurdity of print production than this: The New York Times could buy each of its subscribers a new Amazon Kindle — the popular e-book reader which offers Times content — for half the amount of money that it costs to print and deliver its newspaper each year.

Continuing to build the Obama brand

When Obama came before Congress to deliver a prime-time, nationally-televised address, he made a point to note that the White House had launched a new website to track the impact of the economic recovery package. He created recovery.gov, he said, “so that every American can find out how and where their money is being spent.”
Last week, the Obama administration unveiled a three-color logo that will be used to identify all the projects across the country funded by the economic recovery bill. The only thing written on image are the words, “recovery.gov,” and the logo is now featured prominently on the recovery website.
“These emblems are symbols of our commitment to you, the American people — a commitment to investing your tax dollars wisely, to put Americans to work doing the work that needs to be done,” Obama said. “So when you see them on projects that your tax dollars made possible, let it be a reminder that our government — your government — is doing its part to put the economy back on the road of recovery.”
Of course, the website and the logo are more than a symbol of commitment — both are instantly recognizable as an extension of the greater Obama brand.
During the campaign, the Obama organization made a concerted effort to cultivate that brand. By election day, the rising sun logo was ubiquitous, the whole world knew that Barack Obama stood for hope and change, and anything printed in the Gotham font was associated with the campaign.
Even the Shepard Fairey poster — an iconic image that the Obama organization did not create — was rolled into the broader cultural phenomenon.
The Obama brand is defined by three things:
It manages to be both forward-looking and seeped in history.The recovery logo is a perfect example — but for the web address, there is nothing about it that would seem out of place in a New Deal program. The Fairey image is deeply nostalgic, but it uses the Gotham font, which was created in 2000.
It’s deeply tied to the web — every offline program has an online component. As the official transition began, for instance, Obama was represented online with Change.gov. The moment Obama was sworn in as president, his staffers launched a new version of WhiteHouse.gov which fit the brand.
It is connected directly to real people. During the campaign, supporters were invited to join MyBarackObama — to set their own fundraising goals, discuss their own priorities for the country, and bring their friends and family into the effort. During the transition, citizens were invited to apply for positions in the government, to weigh in on policy goals, and to offer their vision for the new administration. Now, with the recovery, people are invited to see their tax dollars at work and to hold the government accountable for this spending.
Barack Obama, as an individual, is not the brand. He is its most powerful symbol and its strongest advocate. But the brand is larger than even the president. It is both an argument about what government should be and a movement to make that vision reality.
On Monday afternoon, John Dickerson — a political writer for Slate — posted a link in his Twitter feed. “A first for this WH?,” he wrote, “Emailing articles supportive of policy. How an administration acts like a campaign: http://bit.ly/12U1yt
The Obama administration isn’t so much campaigning as it is continuing to advance the brand.

Shifting the Focus to 2010

There are certain elections that stick out in the political memory, and lately, the memories have all been good.
For Democrats, 2006 was all about Congress and 2008 was all about Barack Obama and the White House.
The election we will hold in a year will focus in large part on state legislatures, and it could have consequences that stretch far beyond the term of a president or a session of Congress.
In 2010, 46 states will hold legislative elections. Nationwide, 1155 Senate seats and 4598 House seats will be up for grabs.
Once those races are decided, lawmakers in 36 states will come together to determine the layout of new Congressional and legislative districts after the Census.
Across the country, these legislators will draw the maps for 383 of the 435 congressional seats and 5074 of the 7333 partisan legislative seats.
Barring a change election like the one we saw in 2006 – after nearly a decade of Republican scandals – the maps created after 2010 will dictate political realities for the next decade.
In addition to writing for TDS, I’m the communications director for the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee.
We’ve just compiled our first look at the political landscape for 2010 in a memo that’s posted on our website .
We’re counting on support from allies like the readers of The Democratic Strategist to ensure that we have the knowledge and resources we need to win.
You might also want to take a fresh look at the broader 2010 forecast that Ed Kilgore published as a TDS White Paper back in December.

Gubernatorial Grandstanding from the GOP

With most of the nation’s governors in town over the weekend for the winter NGA meeting, much of the talk centered around the recovery bill signed into law by President Obama last week.
The stimulus package contains billions of dollars earmarked for state governments, but throughout the process, a handful of conservative governors — namely South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Texas Gov. Rick Perry — have threatened to turn the money down.
That threat is largely toothless.
Language inserted into the final bill by South Carolina Congressman James Clyburn, will allow state lawmakers to bypass the executives to access the funds.
Specifically, the law states:

If funds provided to any state in any division of this act are not accepted for use by the governor, then acceptance by the state legislature, by means of the adoption of a concurrent resolution, shall be sufficient to provide funding to such state.

And governors from both sides of the aisle have said they would accept any of the funds rejected by the conservatives.
On Fox News Sunday, Gov. Jennifer Granholm of Michigan told her GOP colleagues, ““We’ll take it. We’ll take your money.”
On ABC’s This Week, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said, “Well, Governor Sanford says that he does not want to take the money, the federal stimulus package money. And I want to say to him: I’ll take it. I’m more than happy to take his money or any other governor in this country that doesn’t want to take this money.”
Predictably, many of the conservatives are now walking back their earlier statements.
For instance, Gov Perry informed the Obama administration last week that Texas would accept its share of the funding.
The reality is that, setting aside some symbolic gesture, all the state governments will put the recovery funds to use.
Anyone suggesting otherwise is simply trying to score cheap points with the conservative base.