Writings and observations

Crossover numbers and types

The announcement of a committee of people from one party to support a candidate of the other is a campaign staple – most campaigns with any energy at all take a swing at it. Normally, though, it doesn’t amount to much. Yes, the people in the crossover group may have some credentials from the other party, but usually not many very major or deep. Even if a number of real, major, highly active member of one party actually do personally support a candidate from the other, they mostly keep it quiet: They’d have a hard time winning any trust in their own party again. (Or worse.)

Considering these groups is a matter of evaluating the people in them. And on that basis, the group of Republicans backing Democrat Keith Allred for governor (over incumbent Republican C.L. “Butch” Otter) is one of the most impressive the Northwest has seen in a long time. And says something about the way Idaho Republican politics is developing.

Allred has positioned himself, from before his candidacy, as a centrist in between the two parties, and has had plenty of friends among Republicans. Some of them have stuck with him throughout, such as former state Senator Laird Noh, who is a co-chair of Allred’s campaign.

This week, the Republicans for Allred web site was released, listing a batch of others, some but not all previously announced. Of the 10, five were former state senators (Noh, John Hansen, Judi Danielson, Hal Bunderson, Dennis Hansen), one a former state representative (Larry Bradford), one a former Ada County sheriff (Vaughn Killeen), one a county commissioner (Lloyd Rasmussen of Caribou County), one a mayor (Kirk Hansen of Soda Springs) and one on the non-partisan Idaho Falls city council (Sharon Parry). (Evidently there are others as well, but those are the named highlighted on the “who we are” page.) The batch of a half-dozen former legislators is the most substantial group of partisan elected officials to cross over to an opposing candidacy in a major Idaho race in … a long time at least.

One curiousity here is the number of officials from the very Republican southeast corner of the state, around the Soda Springs/Preston area (Dennis Hansen, Kirk Hansen, Larry Bradford, Lloyd Rasmussen). And as a group, they’re more rural than urban – just two from Ada County.

But the common thread between the 10 feels like something else. Most or all of them would describe themselves as conservatives, more than moderates. All of the senators, for example, were apparently considered conservative enough while they were serving to rise to committee chairs or floor leadership spots. (In 1996 the Idaho Republican Party gave Danielson an award as outstanding Republican legislator.) But they also have a track record as pragmatists, guided to an extent by political philosophy but rules less by it than by the facts at hand. A statement of ideology might be a point to consider, but not the only point. The legislators among them at least tended to be fairly well versed in specific areas of legislative action (Noh to an almost legendary degree in the area of natural resources).

As Republicans in Idaho and elsewhere seem to turn increasingly ideological, this may be an area of real split. And that has some significance when you look at the Allred 10.

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