Jan 26 2010

Taking wings

Published by at 5:34 pm under Idaho

If you’re following the Idaho 1st district campaign, you’ll want to check out the just-posted piece by the Idaho Statesman‘s Dan Popkey, outlining the emerging breaks among Republicans as they separate into support of the two (current) candidates for the U.S. House, Vaughn Ward and Paul Labrador.

Specifically, he described Republicans as “separating into camps representing the Idaho Republican Party’s establishment and libertarian-conservative reform wings” – backing Ward, a former staffer for former Senator and Governor Dirk Kempthorne, and state Representative Raul Labrador.

No quarrel here with the basic structure Popkey lays out, but two other points also should be borne in mind.

One that Ward originally positioned himself as as sort of reform/outsider in running against Ken Roberts, who was in the state House Republican leadership. (Roberts later dropped out.) Of course, he could hardly have gotten the kind of financial and organizational support he got without backing from some well-placed people, but that early positioning allowed him to gather some backing from those disaffected with the party establishment as well. (Some critics within the party see him, rightly or wrongly, as the candidate of the Kempthorne and Jim Risch crowd.) His high-profile support this week from both Kempthorne and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna (who was very much on the same side as Labrador in some of the internal party battles of recent years) is an indication of that.

The second point is the cross-currents in the Republican Party, the mini-ripples of personal and policy conflicts within a party which for so long has been in a position of dominance, mean that loyalties among elected officials and party people don’t always fall exactly where you think they will.

And there remains the outside possibility of a return of former Representative Bill Sali into the contest. This will be a battle of some interest for the next several months.

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One Response to “Taking wings”

  1. fortboiseon 27 Jan 2010 at 10:40 am

    It doesn’t seem to me that it would be very smart for Sali to jump in at this point, which is not to say he won’t anyway. The longer he waits, the stronger Ward’s support gets. His original entrance was a 6-way with two quality candidates splitting the establishment vote.

    Ward vs. 2 guys splitting the right wing wins easily, is my forecast, and the financial hole Sali’s been in would be even uglier. (So… Ward’s secret supporters should be encouraging Sali to step in, eh?)

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