The Democrats were overjoyed. One campaign aide was almost literally dancing down a Boise street, so happy was he about the choice the Republicans had made of who would represent them in the general election for the 1st congressional district seat. Worst candidate of the bunch, he said; others would have been tougher, but this one was so bad that the election would be a slam dunk. Big sigh of relief.
That's right: I'm talking about May 1994, when Helen Chenoweth was nominated by the Republicans for a seat in Congress. She went on, as we know now, to serve three terms before leaving of her own volition (in honor of a campaign pledge). She turned out not be an easy mark at all: She defeated incumbent Democrat Larry La Rocco.
This is worth bearing in mind as we hear, today, the terrific opportunity being placed before Idaho Democrats with the nomination of Bill Sali to that same seat, and of a highly presentable Democrat, Larry Grant, to oppose him.
And that word is being spread far and wide. You see is in emails and blogs. And you see it implied in quotes like this one from Idaho Democratic Chair Richard Stallings: “The Republicans have made a lot of mistakes in recent years, but nominating their 1st Congressional District candidate last night was a serious misstep. They have chosen a nominee who is despised within their own party – and with good reason. Bill Sali is one of the most divisive personalities in Idaho politics."
A Daily Kos web site diary post about the race (which otherwise includes quite a few useful bits and pieces) actually includes the line, "The only problem for Grant currently is money."
Well, no. It isn't his only problem. This could be the most competitive race in the 1st since at least 1998 and maybe earlier, which means a Grant win is viable - could happen. But the odds still run the other way, and Democrats would not be well-served to ignore the obstacles before them. (more…)