Incumbent C.L. “Butch” Otter’s words on winning another four years as Idaho’s Governor were a slight jab at the nation's liberals.
“In the end, Idahoans spoke loudly that strong conservative leadership is what they wanted during these tough times.”
Not willing to beat a dead horse, his challenger, Keith Allred opted for the simple concession line following his rejection of partisanship.
"I wish Governor Otter all the best as he works to guide our state through a difficult time," Allred said.
What did the Democrats need in order to take the Governorship of Idaho? Allred seemed the perfect candidate: bright, charismatic, funny, He has the Idaho lineage: the rancher background, and some
conservative opinions. He’s Mormon.
“The founding fathers warned that the greatest threat would be that we would divide ourselves,” said Allred before formally admitting defeat. “We live in a highly partisan nation…This year has turned out to be a
more anti-Democrat tide than we would have thought,” said Allred.
Seemingly over night, “democrat” became once again a naughty word after a brief post-2008 respite. Idahoans saw D next to Allred’s name, and immediately associated it with their dissatisfaction with the Obama administration and federal government.
Allred ran a race that he, from the beginning, called a “non-partisan” approach to politics, vehemently claiming that he was an independent with a Democratic endorsement and conservative values, even when his opponents—and maybe voters—wouldn’t buy it.
“We’re trying to keep people honest” said Rep. Brian Cronin of Boise. “Trying to ask questions every step of the way, maybe at the expense of good politics. We could sit back and say ‘this is how these people [Republicans] are destroying their state,” said Cronin. “We keep thinking if we do the right thing, that people will recognize that…I don’t think that’s the right formula.”
The “right thing” Cronin is referring to is taking the moral high ground in Idaho. Rather than combat Tea Party rhetoric—this filtering down from the national level—the Democrats have largely stayed stoic in their fight. Allred’s no different. Rather than land the real punches and attack Otter’s libertarian-leaning principles, he maintained a by-the-issues orientation.
Maybe the problem wasn’t Allred’s philosophy—maybe the problem was his refusal to play the game.