For the better part of the year or so Vaughn Ward has been running for the U.S. House, he has been the front runner - much of that time, a seemingly prohibitive front runner. One other candidate, legislator Ken Roberts (who this evening won his own contested primary for his current seat), dropped out because there seemed no way to beat him. When another legislator, Raul Labrador, entered the race, there seemed to be no realistic prospect he could beat him either.
What has happened over the last couple of months culminating in tonight's primary win by Labrador over Ward, and this ought to be remembered, is that Ward chiefly defeated himself. A few months ago he had or seemed to have absolutely everything you need to succeed at this. He had good presence, articulated well, lots of money, lots of party connections, full-time and intensive, campaigning, strong organization - pretty much everything. He raised money far behind what Labrador did. Most of the big names in Idaho Republican politics who were doing endorsements, did them for Ward.
But Ward blew up, in a series of goofs and gaffes so rapid-fire that they finally attracted national attention.
This isn't to slight Labrador, who ran a solid campaign and had positioned himself well enough to take advantage of the situation when his opposition fell apart. But it also means he will have to develop, starting from a much more basic level, a national-caliber campaign, something Ward seemed to have done already. We'll come back to this in a future post.
For the moment . . . just goes to show how, even in Idaho, politics is never entirely predictable.