While shaking off the Election Night hangover, Citydesk pulled out its notes from its statewide election preview to see if what voters warned us about bore some reality.
In Idaho's panhandle where we were told, "challengers don't cut ribbons," referring to Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's frequent visits to break ground or open new businesses, Otter—who lost in Bonner and Shoshone counties in the last election—won big. Otter won by a huge 32 percent margin in Bonner County and by 22 percent in Shoshone County.
In North Central Idaho, where locals told us that they were ready for an alternative, but weren't familiar enough with challenger Keith Allred or his platform, voters handed Otter another big win in Nez Perce County by nearly 3,000 votes. Otter had previously lost Nez Perce County, as had his Republican predecessor Dirk Kempthorne.
In Southwest Idaho, you don't have look beyond Ada County, where Otter once again won big in a region where he had previously lost. Otter won Ada by a 14 percent margin. In Canyon County, Otter won huge by a 43 percent margin.
In Central Idaho, Allred found a bit of good news. He won Blaine County, but only by 1,300 votes.
In the Magic Valley, Allred lost the battle of what voters called "cowboy one-upmanship." He lost big. In Allred's home base of Twin Falls County, Otter swamped Allred by nearly 6,000 votes.
And In Eastern Idaho, where LDS Republicans told us that indeed faith matters, Allred lost Bannock County by only 2 percent of the vote. A number of voters, who said they were Mormons and Republicans, told us they were voting for Allred, but had hoped that the candidate would have been a bit more public about the importance of his membership in the LDS church.
In the legislature, there were several big gains by Republicans. In the Treasure Valley, Republican Julie Ellsworth squeaked a win (nine votes) to claim House Seat A in District 18. A recount is expected, but if Ellsworth's win holds, that's a net gain for the GOP. Ellsworth won the seat previously held by Rep. Branden Durst, who ran for the State Senate in the same district. Bad move. He lost to Republican Mitch Toryanksi for the seat previously held by Kate Kelly. Another net gain for Republicans.
The Democrats had a bit of good news to stop the bleeding. Up in Latah County, Democratic newcomer Dan Schmidt won the seat previously held by Republican Rep. Gary Schroeder.
Overall, only 13 Democrats remain in the Idaho House, compared to 57 Republicans. In the Idaho Senate, there will be seven Democrats to face off with 28 Republicans.
Election night. The air was vibrating with jubilation at the GOP after-party. The Doubletree Riverside was packed with raucous conversation, laughter, and congratulations for yet another Republican win. Jonathan Parker is the face of young Republicans in Idaho. Parker struted the room, a can of Mountain Dew in hand, a beaming smile bright enough to attract moths. As the 31-year-old executive director for the Young Republican Party of Idaho, he has been working from sun up to sun down for the past three months.
“I’ve always been interested in politics, but haven’t always been involved in politics. I’m the first one in my family to be involved. My grandpa was actually a union Democrat,” says Parker.
Statistically, young Americans are disengaged in politics. According to The Third Millennium, only one in ten voters are between the ages of 18-29.
Why this interest in the election among these young Idahoans? What issues resonate with them to lure them out late on a Tuesday night?
Parker said it's fiscal responsibility, “The stereotype of the Republican Party as being dominated by old, white men is being changed by the young Republicans. We’re trying to get everybody involved as an inclusive group and especially in the past few years we’ve seen our membership grow to people who are really concerned about the deficit. Our parents’ generation is not going to have to pay for this deficit, we are, and we’re seeing more people getting involved and taking a more active role in politics in Idaho.”
A young couple, each 20-years-old, who wished to remain anonymous said, “I think most of the young people I know, Republican and Democrat, are mostly concerned with the state of the economy. No one wants to be jobless right when they get out of college on top of having a huge student loan to pay off. We’re Republican because we think that money issues are taken seriously by our party.”
“I never gave a rip about elections until two years ago. I figured that Idaho is always Republican, so what does it matter? But now with the recession, every vote can count for something and I want my vote to be with the guys who will fight for tax breaks and self-reliance. I want my money to help me before helping a starving family in India,” says Joanna Barry, a 22-year-old student at Boise State University.
Are these guys and gals regurgitating the party line? Parker can’t stand a blind follower. “It’s actually one of my pet peeves that young Republicans and young Democrats just do whatever their parents or grandparents did and they really haven’t researched the issues or researched the candidates to really find out what they believe. On both sides they’re indoctrinated.”
Gene and Harriet Badeshein were the coolest kids at the biggest party on the block. The couple was difficult to miss standing outside the suite at the Owyhee Plaza dedicated to gubernatorial candidate Keith Allred. The Badesheins are the couple that you wish could be your grandparents — with kind eyes, genuine smiles, and sweet faces. They stood together in their matching bright blue T-shirts baring Allred’s name, shaking hands and exchanging hugs with the never-ceasing stream of supporters that slithered down the hallway. They knew almost everyone by name, and their dedication to the cause was easily evidenced in the way that they spoke about Allred; “
He just has high moral standards and really fine ideas about what the government should do for the people,” Harriet said, her voice filled with the kind of pride generally reserved for parents beaming about their children.
The Badesheins began volunteering for Allred’s campaign at the beginning, “When Keith was still doing house parties,” Gene explained. The mass of volunteers at democratic headquarters on the night of Nov. 2 was an eclectic mix of college students, career-oriented individuals, and parents keeping a close eye on their obviously bored offspring. The Badesheins, however, belonged to the most apparent and perhaps largest group of campaign volunteers — the retirees.
Gene and Harriet could be called serial volunteers. They’ve assisted at the Sun Valley Music Festival, various schools, and Ponderosa Park during the summers — not to mention several political campaigns. Harriet’s cheeks were rosy as she explained the reason for the couple’s constant volunteerism: “I think people should give back, and frankly, people our age who just sit at home get old. And we’re not ready to get old.”
Old certainly isn’t the word to describe this vivacious couple, even though Gene recently celebrated his 80th birthday. They’re active, well-networked, and exceptionally social. Gene, an Idaho native, spent 30 years working for Idaho Power, and more than seven working for Boise State University. Harriet is a transplant from New York City, but has been in Idaho since 1971. She spent 28 years working for the Boise School District, and her love for children was apparent when she recalled seeing Allred’s children helping with his campaign:
“It was just precious to watch them with their little fists, sealing the envelopes," said Harriet. "It was amazing.”
Even prior to the announcement of Allred’s defeat, Gene admitted that it was going to be a “Tough night for democrats, we know that, and yet there’s more enthusiasm here than any previous year’s gathering that I’ve been to.” But for this exceptional couple, volunteering isn’t about ensuring a win — it’s about giving back and meeting people. “You’d be amazed at the fine people that you meet,” Harriet said, “They are really the quality people of the city.”
The Badesheins haven’t ever disagreed on a cause or a candidate to volunteer for during their 23-year marriage, and they aren’t too worried about it happening in the near future. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Harriet said with a matter-of-fact tone.
At the end of the evening, Gene placed his hand on Harriet’s slightly stooped shoulder, and the couple meandered toward the stairs. It had been a long evening, and the couple was ready to call it a night. They were unsure about their next volunteering venture.
“We’re going to take a deep breath, we’ll tell you down the road — we’re not sure what’s next at this point” Harriet said, an exhausted look in her eyes. "We’re ready for a ready for a little rest. It’s been very hectic, but it’s been good,”
It’s 12 a.m. on election night. And what’s a left for a campaign worker to do?
Deify your candidate before any reporter with a recording device. Check
Create a last minute strategy for removing as many yard signs as quickly as possible. Check.
Hit the dozen or so big bars and mini bars scattered around your party’s headquarters. Then hit them again. Check. And double check.
Put yourself to bed.
Not so fast on that one.
The election buzz and campaign excitement started to wane around midnight at the Idaho Democratic headquarters as results trickled in and party loyalists faced the returns and declared an end to the 2010 campaign. But the work wasn’t over for many. Months of twelve and 20 hour workdays would stretch into one last 24 hour day as campaign staffers and volunteers stood by their candidate one last time.
“I think I’ll just sleep on this bench,” a tired campaign manager said as the night began to roll into another continuous work day.
“Once you see the finish line — food, sleep — none of that matters,” said Rep. Susan Chew campaign manager, Michael Hays. “I’ve been working straight since March. I only take one day off a week,” Hays explained. “But if I worked 60 hours in a week, that means my candidate worked 80 hours.”
Supporters took time on election night to wander from room to room of the Democratic headquarters at Owyhee Plaza in a kind of walk-about party that included some congratulations and reminders that in Idaho, politicians really are just people and politics are often family affairs.
Poll results rolled across the screen in Rep. Branden Durst’s (D-Boise) suite. Pizza arrived. Volunteers came and went. Family arrived. And more family arrived. And pretty soon the room was full of a whole lot of Dursts. Eight year-old Nicholas Durst found his Pokémon video game a bit more captivating than the early returns, but admitted, “I hope my dad wins.”
Nicholas and his three siblings, ages six, three and 1 ½ joined four generations of Dursts to work on their dad’s campaign. Durst’s 85 year-old grandma, Betty Nelson, campaigned at nearly 500 doors in District 18. And the kids proved themselves as great envelope licker’s, their mom, Jamie Durst, said. And if the Durst’s maintain their record, there may be more little helpers posing next to their dad on future campaign brochures.
“Every election, we’ve had a child every time we’ve won,” Jamie Durst said. “That won’t happen this time, but at this rate, we’ll have 20 children.”
If family wasn’t already a part of a campaign, then the campaign staff often became a family.
A shoestring budget and a late start meant that the Tom Sullivan Senate campaign needed to pull resources, cut costs, and maximize everything — including space. The campaign rented a two bedroom town house and stuffed it full of volunteers, campaign staff and the Sullivan family. Twelve people lived and worked in the town house.
“It was like a frat house,” Sullivan field director Kassie Cerami said. “We have memories. There were a couple of people who said that we should write a book about it. I always thought we should have been in a reality T.V. show.”
Campaign workers remember steeping on children’s toys, people sleeping in the walk-in closet and always something delicious cooking on the stove at the Sullivan headquarters.
“This was more than grassroots,” Cerami said of the campaign. “It was homegrown.”
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.
On this "Day After," our team of Citydesk reporters have filed several blogs, painting the word picture of the sound and the fury of election night 2010.
Andrew Crisp will examine the candidate, Keith Allred, and how the wheels came off.
Carissa Wolf will examine the friends and families who spent the better part of 2010 standing behind the relative.
Sheree Whiteley will examine the never-ending, Energizer bunnies who are the volunteers.
Melissa Vera will examine the next generation of Idaho Republicans who hope to hold up their party's mantle.
It's some fun reading.
Think your vote doesn't count?
This morning the race for Precinct Committeeman and Voter's Delegate for Precinct 14 was determined by coin toss after two of the three candidates tied in the May 25 primary.
Republican candidates Hank Harris and Mark Sparling each earned 35 votes. This morning, Ada County Clerk Dave Navarro tossed a coin to determine which candidate will move onto the general election in November. Harris, who was present, got his pick of heads or tails. He chose heads, which proved to be the winning choice.
It has been a good run. I had a lot of fun trying to do the most I could with the little I had available, I succeeded. I got 26,622 votes from my supporters, compare that to the $508.53 I spent on this campaign, that comes out to about 1.9¢ per vote cast for me, Brad Little spent around 55¢ per vote.
I have proven that it takes relatively little money to run a campaign and make a difference. I have disproved the excuse that you need money to run for office. If you are dissatisfied with your elected officials it is your duty as an American to challenge them, make them realize that they are vulnerable. You may not win but they will listen.
That said, I wish to say something that will fall on deaf ears. The people that are reading this are more than likely not the subject of this comment. But, shame on the majority of Idahoans.
There is no excuse for such a low turnout, even in the primary. For those of you who came out and voted, thank you. For those of you who did not, I wish I could say what I want to say to you without being offensive to everyone. You have given a big middle finger to all those who have sacrificed and fought to guarantee you the right to vote. How dare you take something so precious, something that Americans have always been proud of, and treat it as though it doesn't matter.
You can complain that you don't have a voice, that your vote doesn't matter, but unless you try to use your voice you can't complain that it is not heard. Voting is a way to let your voice be heard. If you don't
speak no one will hear. If you don't vote you can't speak. I am so disappointed in my state right now, for the first time I am ashamed of Idaho.
I do realize that if everyone would have voted, I probably would have still lost.
Already today I have heard many people complaining about the results, I asked them if they voted, they said "No". In all reality they did vote, by not voting they did not move against the person they did not want in
office, one less vote against them. If you did not vote don't complain, you caused it. Bad leaders are elected by good citizens who choose to remain silent.
Fortunately The winner in this race is not a bad guy, but I have my own selfish reasons to think he is not the best guy.
To Brad Little, congratulations, sir. It was a fun race, even losing was fun. My only regret is that more people did not get out to vote. You can expect to hear from me again, I will be in touch. From this point on
though, it will be to share my ideas with you, maybe then we can both help to make Idaho a better place to live.
Thank you so very much to everyone who came out to vote, no matter who your vote went to. Thank you even more to those who voted for me.
Sincerely and temporarily finally,
Successful candidates in Idaho's statewide and Ada County Commission races rank a mere 1.9 teabags, on average, in Boise Weekly's Creative Commons teabag rating system.
Candidates received one teabag for each of the following:
1. Not answering Electionland questions, thus spurning both voters and the liberal media.
2. Talking about the Founding Fathers, the Constitution or God too much.
3. Attending "official" Tea Party events.
4. Complaining that government services are socialist.
5. Getting an actual Tea Party endorsement.
6. Winning BW's teabagger bonus option.
Adding up the winning statewide and two Ada Commish teabag totals yields an average of only 1.9 bags. Still, conservative candidates did affect the Idaho primary, with Rex Rammell and Chick Heileson (5-baggers) getting a quarter of the vote in the races for governor and the Second Congressional District, and four or five moderate Repubs getting ousted from legislative seats, particularly in the Senate.
The conservative wing of the GOP made a concerted effort in some of those Senate districts, according to Lucas Baumbach, producer of the now-famous Obama-Ward mashup vid.
"If you've got the house and the Senate, you don't need the governor," Baumbach told Citydesk yesterday.
But Republicans stood together on the Statehouse steps on the morning after the election, asking for on unity in the general election. Vaughn Ward, who lost his chance to take on Idaho's lone Democrat in Congress to Raul Labrador, showed up and declared his support for Labrador, if a bit reluctantly.
"I said I would and I do," Ward said.
Here's Ward's reaction and Labrador's predictions from non-mashed footage from May 26.
Idaho First Congressional District GOP candidate Vaughn Ward will take on Democratic Rep. Walt Minnick in November.
Losing First Congressional District of Idaho candidate Vaughn Ward addresses press gaggle on his loss to Raul Labrador.
Steven Pankey, a GOP candidate for Lieutenant Governor, tells citydesk: "I guess I’m kind of in the Sarah Palin camp."
For Pankey, that means being pro-second and tenth amendments, pro-homeschooling and pro-life. But it also means fighting big business. Pankey calls himself, "blatantly anti-Walmart." Pankey is also a born-again Christian who ran for Lincoln County sheriff in 2008 under the Christian right Constitution Party.
Pankey, who owns rental properties in Shoshone, considered running for governor this year, but was impressed with Butch Otter's aggressive action to oppose Obama health-care reform. So he decided to challenge Lt. Gov. Brad Little instead.
Marine Joshua Blessinger is also running in the GOP primary on May 25.
You can ask them about the new Sarah Palin channel (or anything you like) at BW Questionland.