The liberal blogger's conference Netroots Nation, as the Phoenix first reported, is coming to Providence next year. And the ProJo reports that the group is looking to keep RightOnline, a conservative counter-conference that has been following it around the country, at arm's length. Netroots, it seems, has signed non-compete agreements with the Rhode Island Convention Center and two downtown hotels that will be hosting Netroots.
But for Rhode Islanders, that's not the most interesting story involving RightOnline this week.
No, the most interesting story is this: Steve Adler, a Providence native now holed up in a solar- and vegetable-oil-powered compound in the woods of Saunderstown, was one of the most sought-after figures at the conference.
Adler is one of the co-founders of the company that built the voter identification software that helped vault Barack Obama and the Democrats to victory in 2008.
He sold his half of the company, Voter Activation Network, in 2005. And now, with his non-compete agreement expiring, he's pushing a similar product he calls "rVotes" in conservative circles.
He's got competitors on the right, some with substantially more juice. But he's looking to become a major force in national GOP politics, guerilla-style - building his system from the ground up in key battleground states.
Along the way, he just might help the Rhode Island GOP in its long quest for political relevance. See my cover story in tomorrow's Phoenix - and online now - for the details.