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Adamson: Picking the lock?

Was 22 years ago that Dan Adamson last crossed Idaho’s public path, taking a flyer on beating a hard-to-beat politician, and came close to being elected to Congress.

Now he’s hoping history sorta repeats, with a little added burp.

The circumstances in 1984 were unusual. Idaho’s second district representative, George Hansen, had been battling legal troubles for years and, early in the year, was convicted of four felonies related to campaign finance. Hansen was a legendary votergetter and a superlative campaigner – one of the best and most intuitive Idaho has seen – but these problems seemed on the verge of swamping even him. In 1982, he had barely won re-election against a little-known Democrat named Richard Stallings, and the situation had deteriorated considerably since then. Despite all that, most of the state Republican Party structure decided to stick with him. Not all Republicans agreed; many thought a Hansen nomination would mean handing the seat over to a Democrat. But the forces in opposition were formidable enough that no prominent Republican, none holding or formerly holding elective office, would file against Hansen in the primary.

Dan Adamson, who essentially was a young unknown, did. A big guy with a conservatism not so far from Hanson’s, he bumped hard against the party’s structure and in the primary election lost to Hansen by just 1,410 votes – a close race. Had fewer than a thousand votes been reversed, he likely would have been elected to Congress in that very Republican year.

Adamson hasn’t been very visible in Idaho politics in all the years since. And now when he does return, he’s taking on a race given up just months ago by one of the state’s foremost political strategists: The Republican primary race for governor against Representative C.L. “Butch” Otter.

Running against Otter, with a collection of usual policy ideas, Adamson doesn’t have the advantage of running against someone with the kind of record Hansen had. Otter is generally popular, and the problems he has had – a DUI, for example – are years ago and apparently no big deal now.

But Adamson’s take here seems to be something else: “Butch is a nice guy … but he hasn’t had an original thought since he made the decision to marry Gay [Simplot],” he was quoted as saying at a press conference.

There are indications too that he may run against Otter as the annointed establishment choice – Idaho’s new governor, period, whether the voters like it or not.

Does it seem long-shot? Yep. But will be interested to see what sort of traction he does get.

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