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March 15, 2008


I'd be lying if I said I hadn't given it a second thought. Unfortunately, this just isn't a good year for me to run for something bigger than precinct chair.

Hopefully someone is in a better position to step up.

Julie should run!

Lane, I'd rather see you run for a state legislative or city council seat than precinct captain or 1st CD Rep.

Thanks, BSF, but I'm a behind-the-scenes person.

I would like to see a proven winner make the race. Edgar Malepeai would be at the top of my list, though he has family concerns right now.

Either Wendy or Clint would be great, but it's hard to say how a Sun Valley-based candidate would run district-wide.

Alas, it's hard to have someone from the legislature run because we have so few Dems there.

And beyond the legislature, we have a very poor bench in the party. So this is a good year to work on that via state legislative contests and nonpartisan local races.

A few weeks ago I sent Gov. Bill Richardson a letter regarding my exploratory gubernatorial campaign, asking for his advice. He replied and told me, "Aim big. Always try to achieve more than you have to, but know where you can settle."

That's precisely what I intend to do. Someone needs to actively build that bench, so it might as well be me. If someone out there reading this thinks he or she can do better - and sooner - please be my guest.

Meanwhile, I've promised my wife that I'm not running beyond the precinct level this year. It's also increasingly likely I'll be doing business in Boise in the near future (and consequently spending more time there than in the 2T in the short-term), so time is a consideration too.

Irksome as it is seeing no candidates in either the 2nd CD or here in District 24, the bottom line is this is not my year. If all goes well, 2010 will be a different matter.

Lane, I know your situation for this year.

You write: "Someone needs to actively build that bench, so it might as well be me. If someone out there reading this thinks he or she can do better - and sooner - please be my guest."

Well, actually, it might as well be you and DOZENS of other younger Dems. It's not a matter of someone doing it better; it's a matter of people doing it, period. And that means running for attainable seats or - as you say - occasionally aiming high if it means getting a Dem on the ballot when there wouldn't otherwise be one.

We have a hell of a lot of work to do in that department for the state legislature seats.

Alan at Idablue has an excellent piece on why we ought not let any of the state legislative seats go uncontested, even when they seem like slam dunks for the GOP.

The same goes for Mike Simpson. Imagine the money he'll be able to funnel to downballot Idaho GOP candidates if he doesn't have an opponent.

And so the final irony is that even if someone does step forward to run in the 2nd CD, it is quite likely that with the exception of Larry LaRocco all of our major office candidates will have no experience in elective office despite all the hand-wringing and kvetching against that. Frankly that sort of tut-tutting attitude needs to cease.

It's worth noting that even LaRocco ran no less than three times for elective office - including twice for the 1st CD - without holding prior office. If nothing else, it demonstrates a consistent tenacity and audaciousness on LaRocco's part over a period of many years. I for one encourage such behavior in myself and others.

While it's true that all things equal a lower elected official such as a state legislator or county-level officeholder makes a better Congressional or statewide candidate than someone without such experience, at this stage in our development that's more often than not a luxury we don't have.

Yes, we need to concentrate on building up our precinct chairs who may run for Legislature in a future cycle, who in turn may run for higher office afterward. The Republicans do it and it works for them; Jim Hansen is right in that sense.

But even in a best-case scenario, we're probably three election cycles away from something like that statewide. What are we going to do in the meantime? Not run the big races?

Boise has something like that now, but recall even that's a very recent development. It'll probably be the mid-2010s before there's such a system in other parts of the state, including winnable areas like Canyon County and Twin Falls.

Another factor to consider is that many people are reluctant to run because they don't think they'll get the institutional support they need from Democratic organizations. That's a well-justified fear, unfortunately, and probably the single most significant reason why we're not seeing candidates here in Twin Falls. If that's the case here, imagine what the perception is in places like Mackay or Soda Springs.

Candidates are much easier to come by if there's an infrastructure to back them up. The fact we have 21 precinct chairs running in Twin Falls County this year (as opposed to two in 2006) bodes well for us, but it's going to be at least 2010 before that infrastructure provides any return at the county and/or legislative level, and 2012 or 2014 before it produces anything else. Apply the same formula to Canyon County, most of northern Idaho, to a large extent Idaho Falls, etc. etc. etc.

Meanwhile, the party and its backers should do all it can to encourage those of us with the cajones to "aim big" in the words of Gov. Richardson, instead of categorically pooh-poohing their plans because they're "not ready," or whatever. When we have 10-15 legislators and county officials with the capacity and desire to seriously run for major office at any given moment, and a lot more behind them who could potentially and realistically take their place, then we can talk about new potential candidates not "being ready" for major office runs. We may get to such a point someday, but folks, it ain't this year, and it won't be 2010 either. Until that day comes, let the campaign abilities, the fundraising and ultimately the voters decide who's "ready."

To fill the ballot lines in big races, and even in many legislative contests, Democrats are going to need such people this year. I wish I could be one of them.

The quandary we're in here in the 2nd CD is a textbook example. Categorical negativity is simply not an option for us.

In our Republican dominated northern counties, we sometimes run candidates who are not especially favored to win, who don't always have enough money to fight the Repug machine, but do have a heart and willingness and Idaho values at stake. We don't always win, but we make the Repugs spend lots of money. In 2006, with three candidates running against the three Repug incumbents in ID Leg Dis 1, we almost won, but most importantly, we made them spend lots of money. Small steps and eventually we'll make north Idaho Democratic again. This time around, we are going to take one of those seats away, and maybe two.

That's how Jerry Shively won in Idaho Falls: the Bonneville County party kept hammering away at them. I think they finally got the win after three consecutive tries.

But to keep up that momentum, you need people to step up to the plate cycle after cycle. To reasonably expect that, you need to consistently provide the support and infrastructure behind their campaigns.

And you certainly shouldn't discourage people from running at any level.

I was wondering how it is possible? Is it not the case that there are two people running for the First district and NO ONE running for the Second when one of the candidates for the First lives in the Second? Is it my imagination or is that slightly stupid.

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