"No experiment can be more interesting than that we are now trying, and which we trust will end in establishing the fact, that man may be governed by reason and truth. Our first object should therefore be, to leave open to him all the avenues to truth. The most effectual hitherto found, is the freedom of the press. It is, therefore, the first shut up by those who fear the investigation of their actions." --Thomas Jefferson to John Tyler, 1804.

Party leaders on Elm Street

What do Bob Tiernan, Jim Hansen and Luke Esser have in common?

For one, they’re all leaders of northwest state political parties – the Oregon Republicans, the Idaho Democrats and the Washington Republicans – whose parties did not especially west in this month’s elections. (Hansen is executive director, the other two chairs.)

For two, they’re all under fire. And one of them, Jim Hansen, has just been fired. Not the word formally used, but when Hansen writes on Facebook, “The chair of the Idaho Democratic Party asked me to step down as Executive Director on Dec. 31,” yeah, that’s what happened.

That Idaho chair, Keith Roark, said the move (after a decision by the party’s executive committee) was not a scapegoating and adds, correctly, that “Jim Hansen is in no way to blame for the results of this past election. The IDP has little or nothing to do or say about the individual campaigns of our candidates and Jim is no more responsible for a losing campaign than he is for a winning campaign.” All true. But a dismissal two weeks after the losses Idaho Democrats sustained, with no other reason given: What other conclusion should people draw?

Tiernan and Esser have taken some heat, certainly in the blogs, since the election too. While Democrats suffered across the board losses in Idaho, Republicans made some gains in Washington and Oregon, but well below those in many other states.

There’s some tendency in all three of these parties to point to specific personnel – often as not candidates or staff people of one sort or another – as the change that must be made. It’s rarely that simple; the three people in these tough spots all are fairly talented. And it’s hard to see who, moving into any of these ED spots (maybe Tiernan and Esser, who is close to the probably 2012 GOP gubernatorial nominee, stay put) would be the guy to turn things around. Look deeper, guys.

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