Never cry wolf

carlson CHRIS
CARLSON

 
Carlson
Chronicles

Idaho Freedom Foundation President Wayne Hoffman ought to read Canadian author Farley Mowat’s book, Never Cry Wolf. He might learn a thing or two about animal behavior which all too often has application in the political arena.

For example, he will learn that nothing is simple, that everything is complex. As a charming and engaging propagandist, Hoffman loves to oversimplify complex situations and appear as some wise sage enlightening the uninformed about what’s really going on with and in the Idaho Legislature.

He will also relearn what he should know well given the years he has worked in the political arena: nothing is as it appears and there are no coincidences. These thoughts were prompted by reading his overly simplified, off-the-mark interpretation of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry’s campaign mailer and ads in the waning days of the May 20th primary which saw Republican State Rep. Lenore Barrett of Challis go down in defeat.

Hoffman found it all too easy to accuse big business of smearing a true blue conservative for her vote against spending $200,000 for the creation of an Idaho Wolf Task Force. To reach this preconceived conclusion Hoffman had to ignore evidence that should have told him much more was at play. He apparently could not resist the temptation to bend the facts to his skewed view. He wants readers to believe that IACI got away with suckering the ill-informed voter by accusing Rep. Barrett of being “soft” on the eradication of introduced wolves.

Who is he trying to kid? Anyone who knows Rep. Barrett, who parlayed her time on the Challis City Council into 11 terms in the Idaho Legislature, knows where she stands on every issue – to the far right. They also know she is not soft about anything. She operates in a world of clear black and white and calls it as she sees it.

To say her style, after awhile, begins to rub some the wrong way, would be an understatement. Her age (well beyond 70) is another issue Hoffman chose to ignore.

The ground truth is the earth moved underneath her feet, i.e., she was redistricted into a much larger legislative district – District 8, which stretches from Wyoming on the east to Oregon on the west. For years she represented eastern Idaho counties like Jefferson and Fremont not to mention Custer and Lemhi. Want to wager Wayne that she didn’t spend much time in Valley, Boise and Gem counties getting acquainted with her new constituents?

Her antennae should have given her warning signals in 2012 when she won the four-way Republican primary with just 37.2% of the vote. In 2014, Rep. Barrett received 2,677 votes, which in a three-person race translates into 34.2% of the vote. No one should have been surprised.

There’s another tried and true political axiom: It takes someone to beat someone; in other words, you seldom defeat an incumbent with a nobody. My guess is that Merrill Beyelier, from Leadore, is a somebody. I’d wager, Wayne, that Beyelier is a member of the LDS Church ( Barrett is not), and that he had the backing of the locally politically powerful Ellsworth family, which, a few years back produced a Senate Pro Tempore, the late Senator Jim Ellsworth.

That is a much more plausible explanation as to why she lost Lemhi county, which she had almost always carried.

Another factor that could have come into play was the retirement of her long-time District 35 colleague, State Rep. Joan Wood, a Republican from Rigby first elected to the Idaho Legislature in 1982. Holding almost identical views, the two often traveled together and campaigned together. One suspects that Rep. Barrett’s heart may not have been engaged as much as before.

Finally, Wayne, you should have let your readers know that this particular primary just may have also been influenced by the behind-the-scenes contest for House Speakership. There is speculation, whether valid remains to be seen, that the new state representative from Leadore is being quietly wooed by both Speaker Scott Bedke and House Majority Leader Mike Moyle.

Bedke reputedly defeated Moyle for the Speakership when the House Republican Caucus ousted controversial Speaker Lawerence “Boss” Denney by only two votes two years ago. Rep. Barrett’s successor may have some leverage to play with.

All of these items had much more of an impact on Rep. Barrett’s defeat than did the IACI gambit.

You’re the one who is crying wolf, Wayne. Let me respectfully suggest that you never cry wolf again. You’re smarter than that and you know better.

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