(Published in the Courier Mail 16 October 2007)
AT the Civic Centre in Biloela its called "Blogging with Bossie".
Ron Boswell, a veteran Nationals senator in every sense of the word, is working the crowd with a bushie's ease that rarely extends beyond a first name or nickname.
He can reel off primary production statistics like Rain Man quoting dairy prices, demand and supply levels for milk, wheat returns per tonne and demonstrating an uncanny knowledge of rainfall and weather forecasts.
Boswell, who is making one last parade around the showground for this election (it's his seventh campaign for the Senate), has been getting some crazy ideas from his party's headquarters. "Go on YouTube," they say to the man who once ran on the slogan: "He might not be pretty but he's pretty effective".
There have been demands he go online and do some blogging, which is a bit like asking Kevin Rudd to drive in a celebrity race at Bathurst.
Boswell has resisted and instead is intent on demonstrating what he calls his old fashioned blogging style - which is about walking through lunches, council chambers, nursing homes, PCYCs, streets, cafes and just about anywhere else, laying on his country charm as he goes.
While John Howard was splurging $34 billion for a five year tax cut plan (surely the biggest day two hit of any election campaign in history), Boswell was handing over a cheque to the Thangool Race Club for $45,650 to build a new betting ring.
It was a bonus Boswell got to do it standing next to this year's Melbourne Cup which was finishing a tour of regional Queensland, accompanied by the VRC and jockey John Letts (winner of the race on Piping Lane and Beldale Ball). But the race club loved it and you have to believe Thangool and Biloela are passionate about the punt.
These people long for Russ Hinze's days as racing minister, particularly as he was the last politician to kick in for capital works at their track.
Boswell might be in the death seat at this Senate election - No.3 on the first joint Coalition ticket for a generation – but most analysts reckon he'll be successful. Late last month Treasurer Peter Costello, a fully paid-up Boswell fan, declared him a certainty.
For the "he ain't pretty" campaign, Boswell put together a complex group of political allies, exchanging preferences and whipping up third party endorsements to get home. This time the task is about stirring up support for the team. Boswell has always operated as a senator in a fashion more at home in Washington DC than Canberra.
He trades, wheels and deals, camping on ministerial doors until there's satisfaction.
There really is no other senator like him, even though there are some real characters in the Upper House. But someone who is the epitome of what-you-see-is-what-you-get politics is never going to start blogging.