BACKGROUND: Right around the time U.S. Rep. Kenny Hulshof announced he was considering resigning to become the president of the University of Missouri system, I began making lists of his potential replacements. I will admit that former MU running back Brock Olivo was not included.
When Missouri.Net broke the news that Olivo was taking the congressional plunge, I received permission to go down to Gasconade County Lincoln Days in Hermann to interview the Republican aspirant. I didn't know much about him, besides the fact that I was present at a MU football game where his number was retired. And unlike Bob Onder, Danie Moore or Blaine Luetkemeyer, Olivo didn't possess a political record.
So needless to say, my questions for Olivo in Hermann were pretty basic. Why are you running? How would you describe your political philosophy? What do you think will be the biggest issue during the campaign? These are all pretty standard questions you ask a candidate running for office. I didn't really comprehend what Olivo was saying in response, as I wasin "question asking mode" trance.
I posted video of the interview to the CDT Politics Blog shortly after midnight. When I woke up, I noticed there were already some negative comments about Olivo's performance.
Then I actually watched the video.
WHY IT MADE THE LIST: Of the nearly 700 videos that I've created for the Web since 2007, I would argue that my interview with Olivo had the most impact. Over the course of the next few months, the video would be posted on the Daily Kos, alluded to on Countdown With Keith Olbermann and re-broadcasted on Special Report With Brit Hume. To date, it's been watched over 28,000 times on Youtube.
The video probably didn't help Olivo's chances of succeeding Hulshof. People could not believe that a congressional candidate would say "most people know me as a football player, but I also was in social studies class." It also didn't help that Olivo couldn't name a specific issue that would define his campaign or describe his political philosophy in general terms.
Soon afterward, Jake Wagman of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that Olivo had never voted before. I would argue that Wagman's article and the video effectively took Olivo out of contention before the primary really took shape.
Still, I credit Olivo immensely for not running away or ducking responsibility. He immediately owned up to not voting and took a chance to promote the practice. I also noticed that his campaign was actually reasonably substantive on issues as time went on, even though he stumbled rather humorously at a Kirksville debate.
Moreover, I found Olivo to be a genuinely friendly guy during and after the campaign. And while Olivo might have stumbled in his attempt, another candidate without elected experience - auctioneer Billy Long - has an excellent chance of succeeding this year.
FUN FACT: In my long-running fantasy football league, I named my squad "Brock the Vote" in honor of Olivo and the 2008 election. The team - which was hobbled by St. Louis Rams running back Stephen Jackson's awfulness - did not make the playoffs.