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‘Under the Dome’ Political Blog Goes to New York

2 min read

The blog of former Arkansas Sen. Steve Harrelson disappeared from the Web on Wednesday.

Harrelson, of Texarkana, last week sold the UndertheDome.com domain name for $7,800. The buyer was Falsone, a group out of Staten Island, N.Y.

Harrelson originally bought the domain name for $100.

Harrelson told Outtakes that he thinks he was the first legislator in Arkansas to start blogging about state legislative doings. He began writing on the blog at the beginning of the 2007 legislative session and, during the legislative sessions, eventually had 2,500 visitors to his blog per day.

When he started, current political blog mainstays like the Arkansas Times’ Arkansas blog were just developing, he said.

Harrelson began blogging when it got cumbersome to send email updates to leaders from his community, and his blog developed a statewide following.

“It was really just supposed to be sort of an inside-baseball look of what’s going on inside the Capitol,” Harrelson said.

Through blog entries, Harrelson was able to help constituents understand the legislative process and political issues not reported in daily newspapers, he said.

Harrelson was nearby when state Democrat Party Chairman Bill Gwatney was shot and killed in 2008. The blog drew national attention when Harrelson wrote about the shooting, and national blogs linked to UndertheDome.com for the local, Harrelson perspective. The day of the shooting, his blog got around 45,000 hits.

“I became kind of addicted to it,” Harrelson said of the blog. He would spend two or three hours per day working on the website while the Legislature was in session. In addition to his blog entries, he’d post legislative calendars and recruit occasional guest bloggers, such as the speaker of the House.

“I tried to be comprehensive, but it probably was heavy on issues that came before committees on which I served or chaired,” he said. “People really liked it because, a lot of times, people didn’t understand what was going on on a day-to-day basis in Little Rock.”

However, the Democrat found it was harder to stay up to date on happenings at the Capitol after losing his re-election bid in November.

When Falsone contacted Harrelson and asked him if the domain name was for sale, Harrelson was amenable. The company plans to turn the site into a blog about New York politics, he said.

Harrelson saved the blog’s content, though, and may post it elsewhere eventually.

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