News flash: Republicans will sweep all the statewide and federal offices on the 2014 ballot.
No follower of Idaho politics will be stunned by this statement, nor will any disagree. Neither should this be taken as a criticism of the Democratic Party’s relatively new chairman, Larry Kenck. He knows the process of his party returning to parity with the GOP will take years of basic precinct level grunt work.
Privately, he would probably concede the Democrat’s poor prospects because he has been around long enough to know that party’s can provide some organization, some funding, and ancillary services such as media training and marketing support.
But, party organizations seldom produce the most important ingredient – quality, competent individuals with a driving passion to effect change.
He knows also that the huge Republican majority in Idaho has led to factionalism, harsh divisions and petty squabbling that leaves the average voter wondering what is it that the Republicans are imbibing in their drinking water.
Likewise, he knows the antics of major Republican officeholders, along with the dismantling of state support for properly funding an education system that truly prepares Idaho students to compete in the global marketplace has provided a “golden opportunity” to nail the “no nothings” and the troglodytes to the wall.
Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter appears ready to run for a third term despite a record of zero accomplishment (name one significant thing he has done while in office?). Yes, he is personally charming, and yes he loves to be on the road with the Capitol for a Day program. There is something grossly wrong, however, when on his watch the state has fallen to last in the nation in per pupil expenditures for education and he brags about Idaho paying the lowest minimum wage.
When one starts defining “success” in negative terms, i.e., “I stopped the growth of government,” or despite a massive shift of education funding to the backs of local taxpayers who vote for over-ride levies to make up for dwindling state support becomes “we never increased your taxes,” look out my friends because you’re being taken for a ride.
Meanwhile, the nation’s two safest senators thumb their noses at the Idaho electorate. Senator Jim Risch, often with spouse Vickie, junkets around the world on “fact-finding” missions leaving little time for home state visiting. Then, he has the temerity to defend his neglect of duty by saying that since every thing is grid-lock in D.C., why not stay away and coast along in a job that is much easier than being a governor. His colleague, Senator Mike Crapo, admittedly works more at trying to reach compromises and achieve some progress in addressing the nation’s serious fiscal condition. A quiescent press appears though to have let him get away without answering still lingering questions from his near Christmas arrest and subsequent conviction for drunk-driving.
Does anyone seriously believe his “cock and bull” story that he jumped in his car to go for a late evening drive, realized he was impaired and turned around? He was going to or coming from a place certain, but because he’s a good guy this egregious breach in behavior by the normally sober and hard-working senator has been allowed to fade away.
The point is that despite some great “openings” that could be exploited by the Democrats, they will not be able to do so because of one simple but very basic political truism: you have to have somebody to beat somebody. And the Democrats in Idaho today have virtually nobody that’s really ready and prepared to step up and offer themselves as a credible alternative.
Oh, there are a few “wanna be’s,” but the hard truth is that if one wants to campaign seriously for a major statewide office he or she should have been out in the field long ago building support both in terms of supporters and funding. Idaho is still largely a “retail” state in politics, has opposed to coastal states like Oregon, Washington, and California – states with such large populations that people only see their office holders through the “wholesale” medium of television. In Idaho, people expect to and do see their officeholders in person. This form of retail politics takes time and requires building and nurturing many key relationships.
Rumor has it that Boise school board member and current chair A.J. Bulakoff will be the Democratic candidate for governor. He may be a quality person, a genuine philanthropist and one dedicated to the importance of education, but he doesn’t stand a snowball’s chance because he is starting way too late.
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