The just-announced candidate for Idaho's 1st congressional district is Republican this time. (This district has abruptly become the busiest House district, by far, in the Northwest - now in both parties.) So what are we to make of the newcomer, Matt Salisbury?
We know only but so much. We do know he has a compelling personal story: A Nampa businessman serving in the Idaho National Guard, he was deployed to Iraq, spending considerable time in the Middle East. (A decade ago he was an Army airborne ranger.) He was there to see, among other things, elections in Iraq; he doubtless has some interesting stories to tell. His background will generate some immediate respect.
The reasons behind a challenger's entry into a congressional race - especially for a primary challenger, since Salisbury presumably would be trying to take out Republican Representative Bill Sali - are crucial in evaluating his candidacy. And those seem a little unclear as yet.
On the biggest issue of the day, and the one his background would suggest - Iraq - he's reported as saying simply that the United States ought to stick by its allies as they try to rebuild their country. Nothing inflammatory there, and nothing Sali likely would take much issue with.
The Nampa Press-Tribune quotes him this way: “The greatest issue driving my campaign is the belief that Idaho’s 1st Congressional District deserves a candidate whose singular drive is to independently serve the public trust in such a way that the people know they have a leader in Washington committed to serving his constituents rather than a political career.”
He may mean exactly that; the catch being, it's something every other candidate in the race (Sali, a first-term representative, included) could also say. So what's the specific rationale for the race - a reason for his entry so compelling that it calls on voters to fire the incumbent and install him instead?
That could yet be coming. If it does, we may get a better feel for this candidacy, and how it fits into the mix next year.
ALSO A correspondent adds this, from an Associated Press story: "Matt Salisbury, 34, of Nampa, described himself as a 'Lincoln Republican' who believes politicians should stay 'out of your bedroom and out of your social mores.' 'Idahoans deserve a candidate who doesn't represent social engineering, who doesn't represent anything other than carrying out the public trust,' Salisbury told The Associated Press on Thursday." From that, you'd conclude: Not a social conservative. We'll await more information.