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Posts published in “Day: January 10, 2018”

If at first . . .


Most folks can complete the ellipse in the title with the correct “try, try again.” The latest to utilize the thought that generated the well-worn phrase is A. J. Balukoff, the multi-millionaire businessman and developer, as well as long-time member of the Boise School Board.

Though soundly defeated in 2014 by Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter in a quest for the governorship, he is letting the word spread that he intends to formally declare a renewed effort in Idaho Falls on January 9th to secure the Democratic nomination. Following that he will take a state-wide swing hitting Twin Falls, Boise, Lewiston and Coeur d’Alene, finishing the announcement tour on January 13th.

He even has a primary opponent, State Representative Paulette Jordan (D-Plummer), who will generate interest and help to keep Democrats and independents home instead of watching many defect to the GOP temporarily in order to vote for the most rational Republican.

Balukoff welcomes a primary for he knows it will generate interest and, as the previous nominee he has invaluable personal relationships built up from his campaigning previously. While welcoming her candidacy, he is NOT taking her lightly.

He recognizes she is tall, an excellent speaker, and colorful. No one would use these phrases to describe A.J. Presumably she will be well-financed if gaming tribes across the nation line up and pony up. That is a big question mark right now. A.J.’s timing may be excellent in that a blue tidal wave may be forming that will sweep across the nation, though, and even Idaho could see a Democrat elected state-wide and perhaps to Congress.

It is clear also that Balukoff learned a lot from his first venture. His answers to questions during a 30-minute chat were crisp and on point.

One won’t hear phony budget cuts in spending nor irrational tax cuts at the state level to mimic federal cuts coming from his mouth. He clearly sees all three of the leading Republican candidates as pandering to a traditional Republican animus towards taxes regardless of the fact that no one, not even the businesses in the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry (IACI), are clamoring for tax relief.

The fact is business in Idaho is satisfied with the balanced three legged stool of state taxes (sales, income and property) and would rather see more investment in public education and college education.

A.J. remains passionately committed to better funding for education and teachers. He knows the key is expanding the economic pie and that the old Andrus formula still applies: “first you have to make a living, then you have to have a living worthwhile.”

Asked if he had a poll in the field, he said yes. Asked if the comprehensive statewide poll that probably cost $40,000 was based patially on deciding the degree of challenge represented by Jordan, and that it might provide a rational excuse not to spend $3 million of his own,” he said no, he was committed to the race and repeated he welcomed Paulette into the fray.

Balukoff is a student of Idaho history and knows in recent times several Idaho governors tried and failed to win the governorship in their initial run. Among this group one can find future four-term Idaho governor Cecil Andrus who lost both the primary and the general election in 1966; John Evans; Phil Batt; Butch Otter, C. Ben Ross; and C.A. Bottolfsen.

While he appears to be a much-improved candidate than he was four years ago, A.J. share the same challenge that faces Tommy Ahlquist - both are multi-millionaires, developers, and members of the LDS Church who must overcome the appearance of trying to buy their way into high public office.

Both also know and like each other with Ahlquist actually making the maximum personal contribution one could make to Balukoff in 2014. Both may have selected the party they are members of out of political convenience.

Neither has a particularly good and persuasive answer as to why Idahoans should entrust their future and those of their children and grandchildren to a political novice with no governmental experience but nonetheless thinks he can and should start at the top.

Notes . . .


A few thoughts after finishing the new book Fire and Fury, by Michael Wolff, about the first nine months or so of the Trump Administration.

One is that many of the points in the Washington Post's review of it, were on target. It was journalistically iffy: There was little clarity about the source of much of the material, or the background. (One long scene happened, apparently but not made clear in the book, at a house party Wolff held.) There were curious gaps and omissions; there were significant elisions. In a number of cases, conflicting explanations or descriptions were offered, with no effort to determine which of them might be, at least, most true. And so on.

With all that true, there are some other things worth saying about it (and reasons why reading the book isn't a waste of time).

One is that, while no one should be shocked if some material in it doesn't hold up, evidently, at least so far, the large bulk of it does. Don't take it all to the bank; but as for providing a broad, rough picture, it seems to do the job.

It is published in book form, but it seems more like quick, journalistic writing, more an impression (segments are reminiscent, sans the style, of some of Hunter Thompson's political pieces). It was done fast, in a hurry, probably in part to keep from seeming out of date in months to come. But that does give it some immediacy.

Generally, it matches up with, and reflects, a good deal of the reporting that's been done in recent months. That means the outline of the book doesn't tell us much new, that only the details are really fresh. Still, the details, in aggregate (and recognizing that some of them may not endure) provide a good deal of depth and understanding about the dynamics inside the White House. The stories we've seen in established publications have a lot more depth after this new book is absorbed.

There's some good, useful background about the key figures involved, too, that many people may not have known.

And it is entertaining.

It's worth a read. Add to that a cautionary note: Don't take it all to the bank. But . . . it's with factoring in, not as any kind of definitive take, not as a finely documented record of the time and place, but as a partial, immediate, temporary piece of the story. Something else we can draw on, in addition to other sources, as we try to figure out in years ahead just what happened. - rs