The MountainGoat Report blog is on to something intriguing in the contest over replacing departed state Representative Bill Deal, R-Nampa, in the Idaho House. It has to do with the way some of the contenders are connected in Republican politics.
Deal, you'll recall, is a long-time House member who was a candidate last month for House speaker; after losing that bid, he was appointed by new Governor Butch Otter as director of the state Department of Insurance. Deal has been a Republican caucus mainstay but leaning a bit toward the left side of it. His replacement will almost certainly be further to the right (as we usually reckon these things).
The first top choice of the local Republican committee was Ray McKenzie, the father of Senator Curt McKenzie. But his nomination fell through because he had been living in Idaho Falls for a short time, and technically didn't qualify for the appointment, which will be made by Otter.
The committee re-chose three nominees: Steve Kren, son of a Nampa city council member; Ronalee Linsenmann, a Canyon County Republican activist; and Scott McDonald, a former state administrator, a former leader of the Idaho Association of Cities and is currently executive director of the Nampa Family Shelter Coalition. McDonald seems an unlikely choice.
Kren could credibly get the nod, but MountainGoat has another thought: "My thinking is that he'll make that choice due to his support for the bill being proposed by Sen. John McGee (R-Caldwell) denying government services to illegal residents. Ex-Canyon County Commissioner Robert Vasquez is well known for his stance on illegal immigration and as his campaign manager, Ronalee Linsemann would surely fit into Gov. Otter's efforts to quell illegal immigration statewide."
Hmm. Otter wouldn't, of course, have to appoint Linsemann in order to support the legislation. And we should recall just how acerbic Vasquez (and presumably those closely associated with him) have been. Here's Vasquez on naming Linsemann as campaign manager: "Ronaee agrees with me that the Republican Party Leadership is misdirected in its staunch support for illegal aliens. We believe Idaho's rank-and-file Republicans want their 1st District Congressman to protect Idaho jobs for Idahoans." Vasquez, recall, is an announced candidate for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Larry Craig.
Choosing Kren, in this case, would be the less-contentious thing to do.
We'll not necessarily argue MountainGoat is wrong, though. We'll simply be watching closely to see which fork in the road Otter decides to tread.
CORRECTION: To reflect, Kren's father is a member of the Nampa City Council.