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Measuring the Ada burbs

Put this in the realm of what-if more than prediction. But those of us looking for a clear metric of the political stance of western Ada and eastern Canyon counties in Idaho – these being a central pivot to the state’s politics – might in 2008 possibly have one of the best such measures in years.

Disclaimers first: These places are Republican, solidly so, with scant evidence of more than tiny scraps of partisan opposition in recent years. A strong operating majority will self-describe as “conservative.” But that’s not near the end of the issue, because there are all sorts of conservatives in Idaho.

For these purposes, we might call them “anti-fund” and “limited invest” conservatives, as measured by their stands on such things as the new College of Western Idaho, mass transit and other urban projects. For some of these conservative Republicans, these projects and others make sound business and planning sense; for others, they’re tax and spend and simply anathema.

Representative Mike Moyle, R-Star, the House majority leader (and influential in the caucus beyond the title), is a clear-cut member of the “anti-fund” group. Now, we’re hearing, there’s a move afoot among Ada Republicans to primary him next year – with Eagle Mayor Nancy Merrill. The insurgent case would be that Moyle represents a rural perspective that’s increasingly out of line with his ever-more urbanized suburban district. If she ran (and we have no information that she plans to, though she’s evidently getting encouragement) that would be a contest between two locally strong figures offering a clear distinction, and answer to a question: What is the nature of west-Ada conservatism?

ADDED THOUGHT We’re pondering also the effect that a change in Idaho’s Republican primaries – that is, prospectively closing them – would have on the race. Would it have the effect you might initially expect, or something quite different?

CORRECTION To refer to the College of Western Idaho (somehow, we errantly wrote “Treasure Valley Community College,” which is a different and currently existing institution at Ontario). Thanks to a reader for noting the error.

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