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The Nickel-Plated JA

And yet they didn't ask the same questions about any of Rand Lewis, who has already declared for the race, or Walt Minnick, who has been widely reported to be toying with the idea, or for that matter on the other side of the aisle, Matt Salisbury or Robert Vasquez. Given Grant's high "whodat" and relatively low "favorable" numbers, it somewhat reinforces the contention that a rematch may not be our best available option as Dems....


As I mentioned in Jill's post Greg's work doesn't mean much.

Julie Fanselow

The New West post doesn't say who commissioned the poll, but I understand the Grant campaign paid for it. That's probably why Lewis wasn't mentioned.

I think this is good news for Grant - for whom, full disclosure - I worked last year. The 46% Sali unfavorable count roughly correlates to Grant's vote tally last year. I imagine it includes about a 25% Dead Dog Democrat vote (people who'd vote for any D, regardless of the name) and 21% more whom Grant personally swayed.

If 60% still don't know him well, that gives him a LOT of potential voters to tap. Grant may still have relatively low name recognition, but Lewis has next to none and much ground to pick up if he hopes to win the primary.

Minnick, meanwhile, would need to get in by Labor Day if he's going to make the race.


Heard that Sali (not to be confused with I am a fan because I am NOT) was trying to secure DOD funding for BSU to work on a West Nile vaccine.

DOD because (a) easier to attach anything and faster approvals (b) the soldiers are a high at risk group


The Nickel-Plated JA

But how can you say that someone who is a member-at-large of the U of I Alumni Association Board of Directors, and is the former director of the U of I Martin Institute, has next to no name recognition? In the 1st District, that makes him a near celebrity! At the very least, in Northern Idaho you'd be hard-pressed to find a Democrat (we're talking about Primary voters, remember...) who hasn't heard of Rand Lewis; you might be hard-pressed to find one who doesn't know him personally.

Julie Fanselow

Good points, NPJA. We'll see where the chips fall in May. Remember, though, that the bulk of the 1st CD population is here in SW Idaho.

That's interesting news re the West Nile research funding, t, especially since BSU is not in his district. But good for him, if it's true.

The Nickel-Plated JA

You're right in that only 40-some-odd percent of the 1st District population is in Valley County or points North (I used Valley County rather than Whitebird because of the traditional strength of U of I support there), but how (again talking about the Primary) does that shake out relative to the *excruciatingly* high percentages of Republican (or worse!) voters in Western Ada, Canyon, Gem, Payette, and Washington Counties? I'll have to look at the State Convention delegate allocation plan -- a fair predictor of relative Primary turnout -- or past Primary numbers -- and get back to you on *that* part. I *will* say, however, that given the population numbers down here, seeing a second candidate from the Treasure Valley, such as Walt Minnick, enter the race, would certainly be welcome.

The Nickel-Plated JA

Ok, so I did the math for the 2006 Primary and my instincts were right: 64% of the ballots came from Valley/Adams Counties and above; nearly a fifth of the total came from Kootenai County (where Rand Lewis now lives) by itself. Ada and Canyon were 2nd and 3rd in the per-county totals -- but collectively the 7 Counties down here were completely overrun by the historical Democratic voting strength of the 12 Counties "up there".... Realize, of the traditionally-positive-DPI precincts in the City of Boise itself, only my own (Pct. 12) lies in the 1st District -- nearly ALL the Democratic power in Boise was meticulously shoved into the 2nd District over the last couple times the lines were redrawn; I remember when the Congressional District boundary used to pass right through the Statehouse rotunda!

All that said, I'm not just interested in fielding a candidate who can knock out Sali -- I want a candidate who can *hold* the seat. What good is it to win the District back if you would subsequently lose it to someone like Keith Johnson 9 out of any 10 given elections?

Julie Fanselow

Thanks for the research, NPJA.

As I said, the chips will fall where they may in May. You seem to presume that Larry Grant has no friends in northern Idaho, but he has plenty. But Rand Lewis is a formidable candidate, too, and whoever wins will be a strong contender to take out Sali - and hold the seat.

Another interesting fact: Ds have sometimes (paradoxically) done better in presidential election years than midterms. Larry LaRocco won every county in the 1st CD in 1992 and he polled tens of thousands of votes more than Clinton. Independents come out for the presidential elections, and a strong independent vote in Nov 08 will benefit the 1st CD nominee, whomever he may be.

W. Lane Startin

I'm not going to call the primary out there yet (still waiting to see if someone I can vote for here in Twin Falls emerges), but based on what I've seen and heard Rand Lewis has a rather steep uphill climb ahead of him, especially if it's just him and Larry Grant.

Regardless, whoever comes out of the primary better be ready to pull out all the stops. Bill Sali may be polarizing, but he'll still have plenty of help.

David Erin Anthony

This is a welcome sight in this state. The Democrats have an actual primary race! It always has seemed like the race for the seat was in the Republican primary. Who ever won there went up against who ever the Democrats could find to run. Having the primary race only strengthens the Democratic candidate, who ever it may be(hopefully Grant but hey, thats just me).

The Nickel-Plated JA

Ok, a handful of thoughts:

First, if I sincerely believed Larry Grant gave us a decent chance of winning and holding the seat, I'd be taking a different tack regarding this race. He had his shot, made a number of miscalculations, dissed one of the most brilliant political minds in the Party along the way, and in the words of Maxwell Smart, "Missed it by *that* much." Sali sans incumbency was a *phenomenal* opportunity and he squandered it -- why waste another go-round?

Second, the 2nd District is an interesting problem in-and-of-itself, Lane. You start with a wildly popular (among "his" people at least) Republican incumbent in Simpson, and then throw in one of the most peculiar and intensely Republican districts in the Country. It takes a special kind of Democrat to contend there: almost the political equivalent of an idiot savant, as it were, because a Democrat who *can* win there will find it well-nigh-impossible to win anywhere else, even in the most otherwise friendly of Democratic-leaning districts, and find himself (in this case gender-neutrality would *really* be incorrect) trying to figure out what went wrong; that is *exactly* the train wreck that derailed Stallings, Echohawk, Marley, and no shortage of other Eastern Idaho Dems. Eastern Idaho is the political Twilight Zone....

Third, I don't understand why so many people are quick to shortchange Dr. Lewis. Start with his literally world-class foreign-policy and defense credentials, and add in his lifelong ties to the District through U of I -- growing up in Moscow while his father was an Ag professor, becoming a three-time alumnus of the University, leading the Martin Institute, and serving on the board of the Alumni Association -- and you wind up with someone whose entire life has been preparation to represent the 1st District in Congress. *THIS* is how we win and hold that seat! How does Bill Sali, even with an unlimited budget, manage to hold his own with the "Security Moms" in his own Party when running against someone who patently-obviously outguns him by several orders of magnitude on national security acumen?

W. Lane Startin

To win in the 2nd CD as a Democrat, one must be (1) LDS (it's been something like 50 years since there was a non-LDS representative from either party here) and, perhaps more importantly, (2) win in Twin Falls County.

Julie in Boise


If possible, please post a link here to the piece you sent me re: Twin Falls County. Thanks. It's off-topic on this thread, but I'd like it to get wider readership.


W. Lane Startin



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