A conservative friend has challenged me to predict the outcome of the major Republican primary races, and “to say something nice about the projected winners.” Hokey dokey. Here goes.
Prognosticating a “closed” primary is difficult because no one can say with certainty who will actually vote. A poll may show one person far ahead, but if the expected winner has not mobilized his or her supporters to vote an underdog who has could surprise.
Governor: Butch Otter easily turns back the challenge mounted by State Senator Russ Fulcher of Meridian. The margin will be 60/40. While many Republicans are hard pressed to say what the governor has done to merit a third term and share my dismay at the evisceration of public school funding that has happened on his watch, they cannot buy Fulcher’s Tea Party beliefs nor the absurd Republican platform. Butch is one of the most personable people one will ever meet which causes many to overlook his managerial shortcomings and his ideology. He will also benefit from a well-organized but little publicized effort by mainstream Republicans to regain control over the GOP’s apparatus as testified to by precinct committee races across the state.
Boise school board president and businessman A.J. Bulakoff easily wins the Democratic nomination. To win in the fall he will have to dip into his considerable fortune and spend several million dollars informing Idahoans who he is, his far better support for education, and why he can do a better job than Governor Otter. If he doesn’t spend at least $4 million in his campaign, he will lose.
Lt. Governor. Brad Little turns back Tea Party candidate Jim Chmelik and likewise in November rolls over former Pocatello State Senator Bart Marley. Little is the most qualified persons currently in Idaho to be governor and Butch should have retired and let Brad assume the mantle. Thoughtful, intelligent, practical, a problem-solver who is not driven by ideology, he is one of the few public servants I know in whom one can safely posit trust.
Attorney General: If Tea Party challenger Chris Troupis has any political moxie he could make this a closer race than it should be. His “discovery” of an amicus brief in a gun control lawsuit filed by a Wasden subordinate which slipped by Attorney General Lawrence Wasden temporarily aligned Idaho with the “government ought to do more to restrict the sale of firearms” crowd led by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. While the brief was quickly withdrawn, the AG said nary a word hoping that it would go unnoticed, which it did for six years. Wasden’s mishandling of this creates an opening that if Troupis exploits with any skill could make his challenge more viable. My guess is Wasden will be forgiven by voters who even know about this and that his solid record and non-partisan approach to his duties will see him safely re-elected. (more…)