|Melissa Sue Robinson|
Not that the end result necessarily will be much different, but one of Idaho's most unusual candidates this year - Melissa Sue Robinson, running for mayor of Nampa against incumbent Tom Dale - is creating a larger stir than you might have expected.
What there was at first was just some interest by way of curiosity. Melissa Sue used to be Charles, and that change of genders at first seemed to be central to her candidacy, an emphasis on issues related to sexual identity. (Consider her campaign website's domain, equalityidaho.org.) Or that at least was our first reaction, and considering that the electoral jurisdiction we're talking about is conservative Nampa, there seemed not much more to say.
Since then, a few months back, matters have developed. The transgender part of the campaign hasn't gone away - how could it? - but it has become a news peg for a variety of news organizations to take a look at the race. (See this Indonesian web site.) It has even resulted in some odd attacks in cyberspace. Robinson probably is quite well known now in Nampa, abruptly one of the better-known people there.
Put that together with a change in emphasis. Robinson, who has run for office before (though not in Idaho), has begun taking on a variety of topics, all relevant to the way Nampa is run. She has talked about the structure and makeup of the city council and argued that city council meetings should be television on community cable, saying the citizens ought to be more engaged and brought more fully into the system, along with such traditional subjects as economic development. There's some visibility and energy here and, in the last month or two, some breadth of discussion.
Now maybe the biggest bit of controversy of all - "they have me pegged as a Democrat." (In years past, she has run both as a Republican and a Democrat.) But does this suggest maybe a bit of concern creeping into the proceedings?
Dale has been a fairly popular mayor of Nampa, has gotten mostly good reviews, and Robinson's critique hasn't been devastating, nothing to suggest a serious firing offense. Simply on that basis, there's not much more reason to think now than there was several months ago that he won't be easily re-elected. But the contest has at least gotten more interesting.