Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Idaho Caucuses - The Donkey in the Room

Posted By on Wed, Mar 7, 2012 at 4:46 AM

Kate Scanlin is a lifelong Idahoan who goes to church every Sunday. When she came through the security checkpoint for the Ada County GOP Caucuses at Boise State's Taco Bell Arena, she was asked if she had any guns or knives in her purse.  She said, "Yeah, but I took them out before she came." She wasn't kidding.

But then something else happened at the gate. They recognized her—more specifically, they recognized her parents' name: Scanlin. And they were impressed. 

"You're a Rebel's rebel," the volunteer said to her.

She smiled and went in. 

What the  volunteer was commenting on was that Scanlin's parents were both Democrats and previously elected to the Idaho Legislature—her father to the House and her mother to the Senate. But she isn't rebelling at all. Like them, she is an Obama supporter and then some. Weeks before the Occupy Boise tents went up in front of the old Ada County Courthouse, she spent a night camped out at the Idaho Capitol in solidarity with the Occupy movement.

Yet, she registered as a Republican the week the party closed the primary and displays her plastic ID card with pride. 

"It's the only way my vote will count," she said. 

And unlike a great many of the folks crammed into the Taco Bell Arena Tuesday, she actually hadn't made up her mind.

"I'm leaning toward Santorum," she said, because: "He was the only one who called Democrats and asked them to vote for him. I definitely can't vote for Ron Paul because he is just racist, and I can't even support that."

Citydesk asked her if she would be upset if her candidate didn't win.

"I plan on it. Clearly, I'm invested in this," she said, biting into a large soft pretzel.

As Scanlin cruised the room, people stopped her, asking to take their picture with her and her homemade "Idahoans are People Too," T-shirt. One of them was conservative local radio host Austin Hill.

"I listen to him all the time," she said, slightly starstruck.

After the candidate's presentations, when it was time for the first round of voting, she stepped toward a voting booth but said she still hadn't made up her mind. She extended her hand, holding her official voting penny toward a coffee can with Santorum's name on it, but at the last second, swung her arm in a large arc and dropped it into the can for Newt Gingrich.

"For nostalgia," she said.

As she stepped out of the booth and back onto the floor, Citydesk asked what she meant.

"When I was a kid he was the boogie man," she said. "It was like eats your veggies or Gingrich will get you."

Her face turned wistful.

"I was lucky to grow up in the Clinton years, when everything was great and he reminds me of that simpler time when the worst thing that could happen was that Newt Gingrich could be Speaker of the House."

Citydesk asked what she would do if her candidate didn't win. Would she stick it out for the next round?

"Absolutely," she said. "I'm participating."

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