Free Dartmouth
But this is Freakin' Idaho!
11/06/2006 05:41:00 PM | Nathan Empsall

If you've been following the midterms closely, you know that Idaho's First District has become competitive. This has thrilled many analysts, and excited me - when not at Dartmouth, I live in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, part of the Panhandle and in the First District. And to think I spent all summer commuting to Spokane, WA just so I could work for a competitive race! It feel so weird to say this, and I didn't see this coming even six weeks ago - Idaho is one of three states where Bush's approval rating has never dipped below 50% - but I do predict that Democrat Larry Grant will actually win.

I'm going out on a limb here. Only two national experts that I'm aware of, Chuck Todd and Larry Sabato, have predicted Grant will win. But he's leading the Republican, Bill Sali, in the latest poll (last week) from the Idaho Statesman (Lewiston, ID, I think), 38-34. The previous poll, from Mason Dixon in late October, had Sali winning, 39-37. An early October poll from another group also had Sali up 49-43, so momentum is clearly in Grant's favor.

Why is this happening? Has the national wave actually reached Idaho? Not really. It is true that many of my friends have soured on the war in Iraq, and yes, Boise is an urban area. But Bush's approval rating is still over 50%, and this is still a district dominated by Mormons and evangelicals. No, this is one "all politics is local" race the Democrats are actually winning in: it's all about the candidates. The Republican party, despite visits from Hastert, Mehlman, and Cheney and money from the National Right to Life PAC and the Club for Growth, has been unable to coalesce around the nominee. He won the six-way primary with roughly a quarter of the vote. Former Republican Speaker of the state House Bruce Newcomb told the Statesman about Sali, "That idiot is just an absolute idiot. He doesn'tÂ?t have one ounce of empathy in his whole fricking body. And you can put that in your paper." The uberconservative second place primary finisher said of Sali, "I would not and do not and cannot endorse a liar for Congress." The moderate third place finisher (it was a close 1-2-3) said, "In the campaign he proved himself dishonest and deceitful, and he;d be an embarrassment to Idaho." U.S. Congressman Mike Simpson (R-ID-02), while still House Speaker, once threatened to throw Sali out his third-floor office window. Other House Republicans complained about Simpson's statement, suggesting the third-floor wasn't high enough, and that Sali should be taken up to the fourth floor. (Simpson now endorses Sali.) These colleagues have called him an "opportunist," "disruptive," and "a bully." And several important Idaho GOP fundraisers have started a group called Republicans for Grant.

Why all the hatred? Well, aside from his uber-conservative views (even for Idaho) and his abrasive style, Sali has repeatedly insisted that there is a link between abortions and breast cancer, both in Congressional debates and during legislative session. He's a complete moron; he has suffered "brain fade" and memory loss since an 1988 car wreck, defending himself by saying, "Much of the time in the Legislature, critical-thinking skills are not necessarily needed."

Idaho voters are libertarian and uberconservative, but they're not stupid. As the polls show, they may not want to vote for a Democrat, but they know Sali's an abrasive idiot, and they know having a member of the majority party in their Congressional delegation (since Dems will take the House) will help the state. Most local newspapers have endorsed Grant, citing his moderate positions and business background, along with the controversy around Sali. If the GOP fields a good candidate in 2008, I doubt Grant will last more than a term - LaRocco only lasted two back in the early '90s. But the western wave of Democrats (Salazar, Tester, Schweizer) continues, and I do think he'll still get that term or two, defeating Sali. Even the Democratic candidate for Governor might win. It's just that great a year for us!

Links to this post:

Create a Link


Post a Comment

The Free Press

Alums for Social Change
The Green Magazine
The Dartmouth
Dartmouth Observer
Dartmouth Review
Inner Office
The Little Green Blog
Welton Chang's Blog
Vox in Sox
MN Publius (Matthew Martin)
Dartmouth Official News

Other Blogs

Arts & Letters
Body and Soul
Blog For America
Brad DeLong
Brad Plumer
Campus Nonsense
Crooked Timber
Daily Kos
Dean Nation
Dan Drezner
The Front Line
Interesting Times
Is That Legal?
Talking Points Memo
Lawrence Lessig
Lean Left
Legal Theory
Matthew Yglesias
Ms. Musings
Nathan Newman
New Republic's &c.
Not Geniuses
Political State Report
Political Theory Daily Review
Queer Day
Roger Ailes
Talk Left
This Modern World
Tough Democrat
Volokh Conspiracy
Washington Note
X. & Overboard

Magazines, Newspapers and Journals
Boston Globe Ideas
Boston Review
Chronicle of Higher Education
Common Dreams
In These Times
Mother Jones
New York Review of Books
New York Times
The American Prospect
The Nation
The New Republic
The Progressive
Tom Paine
Village Voice
Washington Monthly

Capitol Hill Media
ABC's The Note
American Journalism Review
Columbia Journalism Review
Daily Howler
Donkey Rising
The Hill
National Journal
NJ Hotline
NJ Wake-up call
NJ Early Bird
NJ Weekly
Political Wire
Roll Call

Search the DFP
Powered by Blogger

The opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Dartmouth College or the Dartmouth Free Press.