The New York Times just went up with its 2006 politics blog, The Empire Zone, and it looks good.

Leading the effort will be Pat Healy, along with Jennifer Medina and, I presume, other reporters as we go deeper into election season.

Having had a hand in the Times’ first political blog, I feel like I’ve got some idea of the assets Pat’s going to have at his disposal here: an in-house television department to do broadcast-quality footage of interviews and events, a comforting backstop of knowledgeable editors and more interns than he can shake a menacing fist at.

Of course, the Empire Zone is a far more ambitious political blogging project than anything the Times has attempted before, with the daunting mandate of chronicling the adventures of a multitude of local characters that could easily merit dedicated blogs of their own.

This is no small thing.

Good luck to Pat, Jennifer and the rest. Welcome