Former Governor Cecil Andrus, who in 2006 supported Larry Grant for the U.S. House and this year supports his primary opponent, Walt Minnick, for the job, played master of ceremonies at the downtown Boise press conference at which Grant announced he is pulling out of this year's race. With the earlier departure from the contest of Rand Lewis, that gives Minnick the direct shot at the nomination.
Andrus mentioned in passing that he'd just learned of Grant's decision today, but thin rumors were floating around Boise yesterday. There were matters of timeliness. One was that, as Grant said, the time was about to arrive when the candidates would need to get into doing comparatives against each other - some sort of attack, direct or subtle. If Democrats wanted to avoid that, now would be the time for dropout. There's also word that Minnick's fundraising - expected to be released within a few days - has gone well, crossing the half-million line and running ten times or more what Grant has raised so far. There's also the point, raised at the press conference, that the national Democratic Party has targeted the Idaho 1st this year, but couldn't get involved while the primary contest was ongoing. So this could bring them in earlier.
A piece of this probably does have to do with joining forces; Grant could have done a separate withdrawal rather than the joint appearance and endorsement he did do. (After the press conference, Minnick and Grant and for a while Andrus repaired to a nearby coffee shop and spent a considerable time in apparently detailed discussions.) That would seem to suggest that, rhetoric notwithstanding, the Democrats do recognize that their target, Republican Representative Bill Sali, will be very tough to take out. And he will - barring some sea change in the ground-level structure of Idaho politics, there's not a lot of good reason for thinking Sali will fail to at least match his vote results from last time.
But there is, evidently, a certain amount of discipline on the Democratic side, which would be a first step toward shifting the environment. That and focus: Minnick vs. Sali, a battle of extremely different people.