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Posts tagged as “Idaho democrats”

Ridin’ with Biden


Too many of the too few publicly professing Democrats in Idaho are taking perverse pleasure in the consternation that the presidential candidacy of Donald Trump is causing the regular Republican party across the nation.

Like these Republican regulars, they do not believe Trump has a chance in hell of being the Republican nominee---he’s too much of a loose cannon, has no guiding philosophy and no principles; he’s a narcissistic ego-maniac who will eventually be reigned in, circumscribed and neutered. So goes the conventional wisdom

In the meantime these partisans take pleasure in every unorthodox thing Trump says, recognizing that it will make things difficult for whoever wins the nomination. If, as some secretly hope, Trump ends up mounting a third party independent challenge (Though he has pledged not to do so)¸ conventional wisdom is this will ensure a Democratic victory regardless of who the nominee will be.

To use a Biblical image, this is the classic case of one party seeing the speck of wood in the other’s eye not recognizing the log in their own. The ground truth is that in Idaho and in the nation the Democratic Party is in as much disarray as the Republicans.

In Idaho, a handful of relative active Democrats just went through a more than appears to the eye divisive election of a new State Chairman, former State Senator Bert Marley, from Bannock county.

Marley’s main opposition came from Dean Ferguson, the party’s communications director, who decided to seek the chairmanship but wanted to continue to receive the salary he receives and do the job he still held. Both posts are consideered full-time, but the chairmanship is unpaid.

Not surprisingly a number members of the State Party’s executive committee questioned whether one person could do both well. The vacancy in the chairmanship was created by the resignation of Larry Kenck, a retired Teamster organizer from Post Falls who by all accounts was performing the duties competently and well. He resigned because he appeared to have contracted a life-threatening health challenge (Fortunately he appears to have met the challenge and is on the mend). During the transistion period, state vice-chair Jeanne Buell, from Worley acted as interim chair.

Ms. Buell is a no-nonsense, smart, tough and well informed individual who has devoted hours of time and personal resources to the party. She is well-respected in all quarters, tells it like it is and has little time for fools. She issued an order that party staff was to stay out of choosing sides in the contest.

Imagine her surprise then when a top staffer sent around an e-mail endorsing Mr. Ferguson. That Marley hasn’t backed Ms. Buell up and fired the contrarian has virtually ensured she will resign when the party has its fall gathering on October 2 in Lewiston.

This state disarray is even worse at the national level where Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz of California presides over a national committee that by all accounts is full of people who literally detest her. Some of this relates to her limiting the number of debates and threatening punishment to any Democrat that participates in an unsanctioned debate. She is arrogant, imperious and arbitrary.

Reportedly, President Obama ignores her and will have nothing to do with her. He figures she is the problem for whoever gets the Democratic nomination.

What is beginning to dawn on Democrats across the nation is that the nominee will not be Hillary Clinton. In the words of long-time political observer Larry Sabato of the University of Virginia, Ms. Clinton has bombed as a candidate on the campaign trail. Not only has she mishandled badly the e-mail server issue, she and her advisors badly under estimated the challenge posed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

National Democratic leaders believe Sanders is unelectable because of his socialistic views just as Republican leaders believe Trump is unelectable.

There’s only one direction national Democrats can turn—and that’s to Vice President Joe Biden who is just biding his time waiting for the inevitable implosion of Hillary’s candidacy. Some observers believe Biden’s son, Beau, extracted a promise from his Dad as he lay dying that the Vice President would run.

While in Pittsburg over Labor Day Biden reportedly met with a top Labor leader who said he had $60 million ready to work on Biden’s behalf.

If you saw Biden working the Labor Day parade route in Pittsburg there’s no doubt in your mind that Joe is running and there are lots of Democrats prayng that he does. I, for one, will be “ridin’ with Biden.”

Hopefully he can bring order out of the party chaos just around the corner---at least nationally. Idaho may still be beyond salvaging.

New chair


A miracle of sorts is developing among Idaho’s Democrats: A three-way contest for the position of party chair.

Call that a small but real mark in the plus column for the Democrats, along with the fact that, unlike the last state Republican chair contest, this one has foregone bitterness or battles. But then, this isn’t a job most people would want. It doesn’t pay, but it can be time consuming and intensely absorbing. The end results of those efforts are likely to be – however adept and hard-working the chair may be – crushing defeat and blame, generally undeserved.

The Idaho Democratic chair has attracted some highly skilled political people over the years, but it has limited authority and is commonly thought to be something much closer to “powerful” than it actually is. (Same goes for the Republicans.)

Still, the chair can influence politics in the state to a degree. This is written before the vote electing the new chair, so I don’t know who it will be, but the advice that follows would apply to any.

Party chairs (any party) have two basic useful functions: Building and strengthening the organization, and serving as its spokesman to the public. (They sometimes play a role too in candidate recruitment, which Democrats in recent cycles have done relatively well.) With that in mind, three ideas suggest themselves for the incoming Democratic leader.

1. The top organizational priority should be filling precinct spots. Form a special task force and chair it, with the specific goal of filling as many of those precinct vacancies as possible around the state. And then give those precinct people some specific and visible work to do.

With focused attention, more can be done in this area than most Idaho political people think. In the 2014 election the Republican candidate for governor, C.L. “Butch” Otter, won by a big margin. Care to guess in how many out of about 1,000 precincts his Democratic opponent, A.J. Balukoff, got no votes at all? I counted only three. There were lonely Democrats casting their defiant votes in very nearly every precinct and in every county in Idaho. The chair should be setting out finding those scattered seeds, carefully planting and watering them.

2. Use such bully pulpit as you have first and foremost to describe what the Democrats are about. Not, that is, about what this or that individual Democrat is proposing: Your job should involve defining the party and what it wants, as distinct from the Republicans, and spreading the word. A whole lot of Idahoans have been given to think Democrats are the spawn of Satan, and that’s not much exaggerated. Democrats in Idaho will continue to lose until this starts to change.

3. Use your position to talk about the Republican Party and what (in your view) it’s all about. Not just the latest bum headline, not just this office holder or that one, but the party itself. And not the fact that it controls all the political levers in Idaho – that just sounds whiny. And certainly not that “we need two parties.” (That offers no help about why anyone should choose yours.) Talk about why you think Democrats are right and Republicans are wrong. And you should be just that blunt.

Whoever you, the next chair, turns out to be, you’ll probably get more blame than you deserve whatever you do. But there is some potential for at least making the job count.