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Post-Stallings

Richard Stallings

Richard Stallings

The Idaho Democratic Party has its challenges, bigger than any one person; one wag on an Idaho Statesman comment board wrote today, “It’s not actually a party. Its kind of a get-together. If it turns into a real party, the Republicronies will have the police break it up.”

Former Representative Richard Stallings, who has been party chair for about the last three years, said today that he will resign almost immediately. (That comes only a few days after his resignation from the Pocatello city council, which he said then he was doing so he could devote more time to the party.)

As is the norm with these transitions, there’s call for people in the party to consider what to do next, to try to move toward serious competition with the Republicans in what is, at the moment, a blood-red state with a few scattered blue dots. As an provider of candidates for election, it is down: No congressional seats (out of four), no statewide offices (out of seven), nearly all its legislators confined to Boise, Pocatello and the Sun Valley area. And the party itself has not for ages been anything resembling a well-oiled machine; too many of its pieces keep flying apart.

On the other hand, dominance of square mileage isn’t especially important in politics – just ask the Republicans in Washington and Oregon who often win most of the counties and the bulk of the geography in their states, only to lose the actual elections. If Democrats in Idaho can figure out how to make inroads into suburbia the way their western counterparts have (Idaho Democrats showed some ability here in within Boise in 2006), they could become more competitive even if they never capture the hearts of Bear Lake, Fremont or Adams counties.

Do they head that way, or get a chance to? The next chair will have a central role in working out a direction.

The new chair will be elected on January 4, when the party’s central committee meets.

Early word of prospect brings up three names, all quite familiar to party people: former gubernatorial candidate (2002, 2006) Jerry Brady of Idaho Falls, former congressional candidate (1996, 1998) and Boise attorney Dan Williams, and former attorney general candidate (2002) and Hailey attorney Keith Roark. All active as candidates, none of them have been especially active within the party organization; any could plausibly be elected.

What thoughts they have for party rebuilding are less than clear at this point. But between here and the vote on the 4th, Democrats logically ought to be asking them (assuming they do in fact decide to run, or whoever else does) exactly how they plan to resurrect the Democratic brand in the Gem State. 2008 should be a favorable time for it; or about as favorable as Idaho Democrats get.

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