Jul 26 2006

Front-paging ID-1

Published by at 11:42 am under Idaho

The big jump up and shout news this week from the backers of Idaho 1st House district Democrat Larry Grant comes to this: His opponent, Republican Bill Sali, just received a pile of money from the Republican Retain Our Majority Program (ROMP) fund.

The rationale is cleanly put by Jonathan Singer on the MyDD Democratic blog: “To this point, I knew that House Republicans were concerned about the possibility that they would lose control of the chamber. Yet I had no idea that they were in such a state of panic that they would divert hundreds of thousands of dollars to Idaho, one of just two states in which a majority of residents approve of President Bush; into a district in which President Bush received more than two-thirds of the vote; for a candidate who has already raised more than $500,000 – especially at a time when the NRCC is trailing the DCCC in cash-on-hand.”

Now. Flip over to Congressional Quarterly (yeah, right, registration required), as solid a reporter of congressional politics as you will find anywhere, and you’ll find the Idaho 1st listed as “safe Republican.” (We discussed it with them last week.)

The view here is that CQ is closer to the mark. We’ve noted before a tendency among some Democrats to underestimate their difficulties in this race.

Sali did raise over a half-mill for his primary – but that’s just it, he raised it for his primary, a notably difficult primary, and now he and his backers have to go back to the well. Grant has raised about half as much, but because he had no serious primary contest, he has relatively more money on hand. Sali’s well-heeled primary backers – Club for Growth and its close allies – will not let him go unfunded in the general. Funds get shifted around in the giant D.C. money pot. And so here we are. We’re unconvinced the ROMP money is a big deal. We’re not seeing evidence of “panic.”

However. In discussing the rating of the race with CQ, we suggested (not entirely facetiously) adding an asterisk to the “safe Republican” designation. Odds may favor Republican retention of the seat, but enough of what you might call “free radicals” are floating around to keep this race alive, and even turning it around. We may have hit a useful point for discussing some of them.

It should be noted, again, that Grant is a quality candidate, and even Republican leaders haven’t offered much direct criticism of him. He is running an energetic campaign. A good deal of Republican support of Sali is less than enthusiastic. The national trend lines continue to suggest a wave of some size for Democrats this fall. Even in Idaho, President Bush’s support is mediocre (even if still among the best in the country). Republicans are in national control, the national direction isn’t broadly considered a good one.

So why not figure that Republican voters will soften this year, that Grant can just reach across the middle?

Possibly some of that will happen – and it constitutes a wild card. But you also have to consider the existing environment, one frozen in place for a dozen years now.

The biggest obstacle for any Democrat running for office in Idaho outside of a few small locations (central Boise, Blaine County, Bannock County, Moscow and maybe Lewiston) is a kind of branding.

Among a large segment of the voting population, Democrats have been so thoroughly tarred, as worthless at best and evil at worst, that they can’t get a hearing. Democrats are a priori awful, instantly dismissable – whatever they say need not even be listened to. If some trace statement does get through that – shocking! – seems to make sense, it is quickly dismissable as being for campaign consumption only. Republicans, in contrast, are not necessarily considered great or superb, or even as (logically, since their campaign talk is so often anti-government) fine stewards of government. They’re simply not supposed to be as bad as those Democrats are and, in their dislike of government and most of what it does, are at least more like us. At least, that’s the message they get consistently from conservative talk radio (the only kind in Idaho, and big in Idaho), from Fox News, from all the politicians (who are almost all Republican) the political figures they know. It’s a monotoned political culture, and contrary messages do not easily break through.

Busting through that is the challenge, these days, for any Idaho Democrat running outside the small Democratic pockets.

Sali’s personal political track record would make him highly vulnerable, if enough voters come to know it – as they don’t know (and as matters stand, likely won’t in November). But suppose. Democrats could – it would be a risky maneuver – turn Sali into their Exhibit A of what has gone wrong with serious self-governance in Idaho – the civic laziness, the susceptibility to demonizing, the lack of professionalism, the over-cynicism. It would involve throwing the voters’ attitudes back in their faces, and in Sali the Democrats could hardly have a better case study.

None of this would be easy (it would certainly constitute “negative campaigning”) and it might turn off the voters.

Are there better ideas for breaking through? Maybe. But right now, a working majority of Idaho voters are as solidly Republican as deep South voters were Democratic a century ago. Changes in that kind of locked-down response don’t come easy.

Share on Facebook

One response so far

One Response to “Front-paging ID-1”

  1. Alanon 27 Jul 2006 at 7:11 am

    I live in Kuna, have lived in Idaho most of my life, and have been watching Idaho politics since majoring in Poli Sci at ISU in the early 80s. I agree with your insightful analysis of the branding of the Dems in Idaho.

    Idaho Dems are way out of power and have been for a decade, yet letters to editors routinely lambast Dems as, yes, evil.

    I’d like to hear more about why going negative on Sali would help bust out of the brand. I expect Sali to go negative, and have no problem replying in kind.

    I think you’re saying the Sali is such a juicy target for negativity that a negative message will get heard. (I’m sure you seen the recent Channel 6 piece on the Club For Growth; it’s linked at Liberal Idaho and Red State Rebels.)

    I’m not quite sure how this will break down the branding. It’s one thing to shoot down a wingnut, quite another to get people to listen and think and not write off Dems just because of the “D”.

    I’m not disagreeing with you. You are an astute political analyst, and have been since at least when you were writing for the Journal in Poky. I just would like to know more about how it could work.

Share on Facebook

 


 

Introducing one of Ridenbaugh Press' latest authors, Nathalie Hardy - introducing her new book, Raising the Hardy Boys.

 

 
owb1444

WASHINGTON-OREGON-IDAHO
Our acclaimed weekly e-pubs: 35-45 pages Monday mornings getting you on top of your state. Discounts for multiple subscriptions. Samples available. Contact us by email or by phone at (208)484-0460.

 

RIDENBAUGH BOOKS catalog


 
Many critics said it could not be done - and it often almost came undone. Now the Snake River Basin Adjudication is done, and that improbable story is told here by three dozen of the people most centrally involved with it - judges, attorneys, legislators, engineers, water managers, water users and others in the room when the decisions were made.
Through the Waters: An Oral History of the Snake River Basin Adjudication. edited by the Idaho State Bar Water Law Section and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 300 pages. Softcover. $16.95.
See the THROUGH THE WATERS page.


 
"Salvation through public service and the purging of awful sights seen during 1500 Vietnam War helicopter rescue missions before an untimely death, as told by a devoted brother, leaves a reader pondering life's unfairness. A haunting read." Chris Carlson, Medimont Reflections. ". . . a vivid picture of his brother Jerry’s time as a Medivac pilot in Vietnam and contrasts it with the reality of the political system . . . through the lens of a blue-collar, working man made good." Mike Kennedy.
One Flaming Hour: A memoir of Jerry Blackbird. by Mike Blackbird; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 220 pages. Softcover. $15.95.
See the ONE FLAMING HOUR page.


 
Back in Print! Frank Church was one of the leading figures in Idaho history, and one of the most important U.S. senators of the last century. From wilderness to Vietnam to investigating the CIA, Church led on a host of difficult issues. This, the one serious biography of Church originally published in 1994, is back in print by Ridenbaugh Press.
Fighting the Odds: The Life of Senator Frank Church. LeRoy Ashby and Rod Gramer; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 800 pages. Softcover. $24.95.
See the FIGHTING THE ODDS page.


 
JOURNEY WEST

by Stephen Hartgen
The personal story of the well-known editor, publisher and state legislator's travel west from Maine to Idaho. A well-written account for anyone interested in Idaho, journalism or politics.
JOURNEY WEST: A memoir of journalism and politics, by Stephen Hartgen; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, here or at Amazon.com (softcover)

 

 

NEW EDITIONS is the story of the Northwest's 226 general-circulation newspapers and where your newspaper is headed.
New Editions: The Northwest's Newspapers as They Were, Are and Will Be. Steve Bagwell and Randy Stapilus; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. 324 pages. Softcover. (e-book ahead). $16.95.
See the NEW EDITIONS page.

How many copies?

 
THE OREGON POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

The Field Guide is the reference for the year on Oregon politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Compiled by a long-time Northwest political writer and a Salem Statesman-Journal political reporter.
OREGON POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Hannah Hoffman; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
THE IDAHO POLITICAL
FIELD GUIDE 2014

by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase is the reference for the year on Idaho Politics - the people, the districts, the votes, the issues. Written by two of Idaho's most veteran politcal observers.
IDAHO POLITICAL FIELD GUIDE 2014, by Randy Stapilus and Marty Trillhaase; Ridenbaugh Press, Carlton, Oregon. $15.95, available right here or through Amazon.com (softcover)

 
 
without compromise
WITHOUT COMPROMISE is the story of the Idaho State Police, from barely-functioning motor vehicles and hardly-there roads to computer and biotechnology. Kelly Kast has spent years researching the history and interviewing scores of current and former state police, and has emerged with a detailed and engrossing story of Idaho.
WITHOUT COMPROMISE page.

 

Diamondfield
How many copies?
The Old West saw few murder trials more spectacular or misunderstood than of "Diamondfield" Jack Davis. After years of brushes with the noose, Davis was pardoned - though many continued to believe him guilty. Max Black has spent years researching the Diamondfield saga and found startling new evidence never before uncovered - including the weapon and one of the bullets involved in the crime, and important documents - and now sets out the definitive story. Here too is Black's story - how he found key elements, presumed lost forever, of a fabulous Old West story.
See the DIAMONDFIELD page for more.
 

Medimont Reflections Chris Carlson's Medimont Reflections is a followup on his biography of former Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. This one expands the view, bringing in Carlson's take on Idaho politics, the Northwest energy planning council, environmental issues and much more. The Idaho Statesman: "a pull-back-the-curtain account of his 40 years as a player in public life in Idaho." Available here: $15.95 plus shipping.
See the Medimont Reflections page  
 
Idaho 100 NOW IN KINDLE
 
Idaho 100, about the 100 most influential people ever in Idaho, by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson is now available. This is the book about to become the talk of the state - who really made Idaho the way it is? NOW AN E-BOOK AVAILABLE THROUGH KINDLE for just $2.99. Or, only $15.95 plus shipping.
 

Idaho 100 by Randy Stapilus and Martin Peterson. Order the Kindle at Amazon.com. For the print edition, order here or at Amazon.


 

    Top-Story-graphic-300x200_topstory8
    Monday mornings on KLIX-AM

    watergates

    ORDER IT HERE or on Amazon.com

    More about this book by Randy Stapilus

    Water rights and water wars: They’re not just a western movie any more. The Water Gates reviews water supplies, uses and rights to use water in all 50 states.242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    intermediary

    ORDER IT HERE or on Amazon.com

    More about this book by Lin Tull Cannell

    At a time when Americans were only exploring what are now western states, William Craig tried to broker peace between native Nez Perces and newcomers from the East. 15 years in the making, this is one of the most dramatic stories of early Northwest history. 242 pages, available from Ridenbaugh Press, $15.95

    Upstream

    ORDER HERE or Amazon.com

    The Snake River Basin Adjudication is one of the largest water adjudications the United States has ever seen, and it may be the most successful. Here's how it happened, from the pages of the SRBA Digest, for 16 years the independent source.

    Paradox Politics

    ORDER HERE or Amazon.com

    After 21 years, a 2nd edition. If you're interested in Idaho politics and never read the original, now's the time. If you've read the original, here's view from now.


    Governing Idaho:
    Politics, People and Power

    by James Weatherby
    and Randy Stapilus
    Caxton Press
    order here

    Outlaw Tales
    of Idaho

    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here

    It Happened in Idaho
    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here

    Camping Idaho
    by Randy Stapilus
    Globe-Pequot Press
    order here