Archive for October 3rd, 2006

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Guest post by Julie Fanselow of Red State Rebels

(This is my last one. Thanks, y’all …)

The Washington Times says Hastert must go. Meanwhile, Idaho’s leading defenders of morality blame Democrats.

Reporter Betsy Z. Russell of the Spokesman-Review’s Boise bureau remembers Helen Chenoweth-Hage

Via Matt Singer at Left in the West, Fire Burns! schwag. Fun cursor action on this one.

Faux News tried to call Foley a Democrat.

Guest post by Julie Fanselow of Red State Rebels

Last November, Brian Schweitzer paid a visit to Boise for the Ada County Democrats’ JFK Banquet. (He was a big hit.) The next day, the Idaho Statesman led its coverage with an asinine headline, “Montana governor tries to cheer up Democrats.”

Well, the fact is, Democrats in Ada County don’t need much cheering up. The Boise area is one of a few blue (or at least purple) oases in our state. We already have a half-dozen Dem state legislators and we’ll probably pick up another two to four seats Nov. 7. Although city offices are nonpartisan, we have a mayor who served in the state legislature as a Democrat, and Boise voters soundly turned back a bid from a locally infamous fundamentalist activist to win a council seat last fall.

Still. Idaho definitely has a long ways to go. Our legislature is the most Republican in the nation, at just over 80%. We have exactly one Democratic statewide office holder, and she is retiring. What’s interesting is how quickly all this happened: In 1990, Idaho had a Democratic governor (Cece Andrus) and elected two Democratic members of Congress, Larry LaRocco and Richard Stallings. But all those seats were gone within four years, and we’ve had a dozen-year drought out of power. How entrenched has Idaho’s GOP junta become? Consider:

The Republican nominees for governor, lieutenant governor, and state controller are all refusing to take part in this fall’s Idaho Debates, a three-decade tradition in Idaho politics.

Current Gov. Jim Risch (serving since Dirk Kempthorne became Secretary of the Interior last spring) ordered a one-day special session in August to railroad through a massive tax shift. Risch’s plan removed a stable source of school funding (the property tax maintenance and operations levy) and boosted sales taxes to fund property tax “reform” that mostly benefits wealthy homeowners and big business. Democrats had an alternative plan that left the sales tax alone and targeted property tax breaks where they’re most needed – middle-class homeowners – but Risch would hear none of it. A few moderate Republicans dissed Risch and voted with Democrats against the plan, but there weren’t enough of them to make a difference, and the plan passed.

So you can see why politically active Idahoans look to Montana for inspiration. We are impressed how Montanans have led the way in electing a new style of Western Democrat: fiscally conservative, moderate on social issues, and dedicated to preserving our land and water. We thrill (yes, thrill, I tell you!) to stories how Montana is working toward cleaner energy alternatives, health insurance for a greater share of your population, affordable college tuition, and bipartisan cooperation to get things done.

Idaho has several intriguing races this year. Jerry Brady took 42% of the ballot in his first run for governor in 2002. He will do at least 5% better this year, and he may well pull off an upset over retiring U.S. Rep. “Butch” Otter. Larry LaRocco is back and running hard against Jim Risch for the lt gov job. We have excellent candidates for state attorney general (Bob Wallace), controller (Jackie Groves Twilegar), and state superintendent of public instruction (Jana Jones). And as noted, Democrats stand to pick up legislative seats in Ada County and elsewhere. We’re still likely to be outnumbered when the 2007 legislature starts in January, but not by the lopsided margin we have now.

Still, no race is capturing Idaho’s attention like the race between Democrat Larry Grant and Republican Bill Sali for the 1st District congressional seat. (We have two CDs here; Jim Hansen is battling incumbent Mike Simpson in the 2nd CD.) Polls show it’s a toss-up, and it’s starting to show up on some political radar screens as one of the Dems’ biggest potential pick-ups for 2006.

The Grant-Sali race is competitive because of Grant’s background (he’s a former VP of Micron Technology, the state’s largest private employer). Sali, meanwhile, is an extremely unpopular state legislator whose own House speaker called him an “idiot” and who barely won a six-way GOP primary, mainly on the backs of the Club for Growth, which poured nearly a half-million into Sali’s primary race.

Last week, Sali’s campaign was named in a complaint filed against the Club for Growth by U.S. Rep. Joe Schwarz, a Michigan moderate who was defeated in his September primary by a CFG-backed candidate. Obviously, the matter won’t be solved by E-day, but we in the Grant campaign (where I am chief blogger) have hopes that undecided Idahoans will take a serious look at the Club for Growth and what it represents. The “Club” advocates for the privatization of Social Security, the use of school vouchers, and the elimination of the federal departments of agriculture and education. Its founder has slandered senior citizens as “the most selfish group in America today,” and it is increasingly viewed as an extremist organization for its zealous pursuit of free-market fundamentalism.

Gezz, this is a long post! So let me just wrap up by saying kudos to you in Montana for bringing balance and innovation to your government. If you’d like to help Idaho in its quest to elect a few more Democrats, please click here to give at ActBlue. Thanks!

Guest post by Julie Fanselow of Red State Rebels

Hey, everyone. I’m happy to be the guest blogger today at 4&20 Blackbirds. I’m going to lead off now with an introduction; post again later today about the current political climate here in Idaho (and the reasons we look hopefully to our neighbor to the east); and finish off tonight with some links.

I’ve been blogging since the summer of 2003. Like many of you, I’m guessing, I got into electronic rabble rousing via the Howard Dean campaign and its groundbreaking, ass-kicking blogforamerica.com. Later that year, I started my own blog, Red State Rebels, now closing in on its third anniversary and 1,000th post. And wonder of wonders, these days I actually am paid to blog via the campaign blog for Larry Grant for Congress. As many of you know, we are in a dogfight here in the Idaho-01, running against an extremist Republican candidate backed by the Club for Growth. But more on that later …

For now, I also wanted to tell you that I have spent a lot of time in Montana over the past 20 years, first on vacations (Yellowstone National Park during the fires of ’88!), then after moving West from Ohio in 1989. I am the author of Traveling the Lewis & Clark Trail which, for a few years after it was first released in 1994, was the only comprehensive modern travel guide to the historic route. (Many people tell me that, now in its 3rd edition, it’s still the best.) I’ve been all over Montana tracing the expedition’s various explorations, from Judith Landing to the Two Medicine Fight Site to Lemhi Pass and Traveler’s Rest and all points in between.

More important than that, I’m married to a man from Sidney, MT, who shall remain nameless here since his job requires him to be apolitical. But suffice it to say, he’ll be at the annual Montana Picnic here in Boise this very weekend, where as many as a thousand Montana ex-pats will gather to wax nostalgic over the Treasure State. Clearly, people may move away from out of Montana, but their hearts never really leave. I feel blessed to have a few strong connections to the Last Best Place.




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