As you consider the Idaho primary election, put aside any thoughts of who was more or less “conservative”, whatever that may mean. Tone is more significant.
Many of the races had individual characteristics. The most striking races were challenger-against-incumbent, where the challenger rhetoric was common to many of the races (at least on the Republican side, where most of them were), and the background structure of the races mainly split into two types.
The rhetoric of the challengers tended to be overheated, even apocalyptic – so-and-so must be defeated or our freedom and liberty are at risk. “The downward spiral of our nation,” warned one House candidate. Or some such: Shrill rhetoric, shrill candidates.
Not all but many challenges fell into two overlapping structural categories: Coming from the inside, from established political people and forces, or outside, from people evidently angry about conditions in general. On election day in Idaho, both kinds of challenges failed.
(The one major case of two incumbents facing each other – the Senate primary in District 23, in which Bert Brackett defeated Tim Corder, falls in a different category.)
Regional Tea Party activists went after three Republican incumbents in District 1, in the far north Panhandle; one of them, Pam Stout, had a national Tea Party profile. None of the three challengers got even a third of the vote. A bit to the south, in District 7, the maverick one-time candidate for governor and senator Rex Rammell, took on incumbent Shannon McMillan, and got 30 percent for his trouble. Less shrill candidates running as outsiders didn’t fare well either. In the Senate District 10 seat, Kent Marmon got 31 percent against appointed Republican Jim Rice. In the eastern Magic Valley, Douglas Pickett did a little better (43.5 percent) against veteran Senator Dean Cameron, but still lost. And so on around the state.
Plus, there was internal warfare. Political Action Committees (PACs) led by veteran Boise-based activists and legislators including House Speaker Lawerence Denney and House Majority Leader Mike Moyle poured money into races against fellow leadership member Ken Roberts of Donnelly (that was a personal grudge with Moyle), Representative Christy Perry of Nampa and a string of others, including several targeted by Tea Party or other outsider candidates. Those efforts all failed. This is going to a happy group when they’re sworn in come December.
Not all primary challenges failed. Once departing incumbent was Republican Representative Phil Hart of Athol, he of highly visibler battles with tax collectors and other issues, but a Tea hero. He also had the advantage of three challengers, and multiple opponents are usually an incumbent’s best friend. But Hart lost, to Ed Morse, who was backed by a group of Republicans who might describe themselves as mainstream conservatives – relatively low-key, businesslike, in attitude.
We shouldn’t forget, though a lot of people seemed to, the rerun primary challenge in the 2nd U. S. House district, M.C. “Chuck” Heileson’s Tea-inspired hot-talk campaign against incumbent Republican Mike Simpson. In 2010 Simpson won his primary with 58.3 percent; this year, 69.6 percent.
Shrill may be not be working so well this year.Share on Facebook