Last week I talked with a fellow Democrat confused by a postcard she’d gotten singling out one of the 46 Idaho representatives who’d voted to fund higher education.
“Who's trying to paint this guy as a champion of education?”
I explained it was an attack by a Republican group that opposes public education.
“And they sent something to me?”
Apparently, some out-of-state group doesn’t know Republicans here have a closed primary or it’s too rich to bother with targeting.
Poll after poll shows that voters don’t like negative campaigning–but they remember it. Idaho Democrats have been the target of a steady barrage claiming that we’re socialists out to steal from workers to benefit freeloaders and that we get tons of money from out-of-state billionaires to indoctrinate workers and brainwash your kids.
It depresses voting among Democrats. They’re angry at those doing the smearing, but worry that some of the negativity is deserved–so they don’t vote for anyone.
When prospects for winning are dim, it’s hard to recruit candidates. According to the Idaho Capital Sun, David Adler, president of the Alturas Institute in Idaho Falls, said “it takes real commitment, perseverance and courage from Democratic candidates willing to enter a race.”
That’s doubly true when candidates and their families face personal attacks and threats of violence. A significant number of prospects I’ve talked with declines to run because a husband, parent, or child would suffer when he or she was threatened.
Now, as belligerent extremists gain power, Republicans are undergoing similar intimidation. It’s a serious strike against democracy. Voting isn’t meaningful when there’s only one candidate.
And voters need information to make informed choices; postcards don’t suffice.
The 10 weeks from filing in March to the primary in May isn’t enough time to study up on the 17 district, county, state and federal contests that may face an Idaho primary voter–especially when five to eight Republicans may vie for several positions. Idgop.org does feature a voters’ guide with candidates' issues and background. Democrats struggle to find candidates’ websites and social media.
And the League of Women Voters releases surveys of candidates throughout the state.
But it’s debates and forums that give voters a chance to judge a candidate’s ability to think quickly and interact well with others. For 30 years Idahoans have watched televised debates between the state candidates in contested races. This year, however, Gov. Brad Little, Rep. Priscilla Giddings (candidate for lt. governor), and U.S. Rep Mike Simpson all refused to debate.
Each gave reasons, but none more important than their duty to inform voters.
Voters can still watch debates for three offices. GOP candidates for Secretary of State debate at 8 p.m. Tuesday, the 26th. Previous debates between candidates for Attorney General and for Supt. of Public Instruction can be streamed at https://www.idahoptv.org/shows/idahodebates/.
Primary season isn’t nearly as demanding for Democrats. This year there are two contested races. Democrats running for U.S. Senate now include Ben Pursley, Boise, a portfolio manager with Campur Management, and David Roth, Idaho Falls, a healthcare professional.
Those running to be governor of Idaho include. Stephen Heidt, Marsing, an instructor at the Idaho State Correctional Center in Boise, and write-in candidate Shelby Rognstad, mayor of Sandpoint.
Links to these candidates' websites and FB campaign pages are at 2cdems.org.
All four candidates will speak April 26th (in person or via zoom) at the Canyon County Central Committee meeting. It starts at 6:45 p.m. in the County Administration Building at 111 N. 11th Ave., Caldwell. Visitors are welcome.
Living in a democratic republic is a responsibility.