Way To Go, Idaho Democrats!!

Americans who support a woman’s right to control her own reproduction have been following Supreme Court arguments in a recent case out of Idaho, in which the Court will decide whether federal rules requiring doctors to take measures to save women’s lives and health are superceded by Idaho’s law forbidding abortion unless necessary to save the woman’s life–a law that prevents medical intervention until the threat of death is dire.

This anti-woman law is hardly the only evidence of the extreme Rightward turn of Idaho’s GOP, a turn that–together with a “compete everywhere” strategy– the state’s Democrats believe will help the party win seats in the upcoming election.

As Politico has reported,

Democrat Loree Peery knows she’s a long-shot candidate for the Idaho Legislature.

But when her state House representative introduced a bill in February expanding an anti-cannibalism law — action prompted by a prank video — Peery decided she had to try to oust the far-right incumbent, Heather Scott.

“You can’t win if you don’t run,” Peery said, adding that Scott’s focus on irrelevant issues like cannibalism shows she isn’t a serious lawmaker. “It forces the Republicans to work, it forces [Scott] to get out there and talk to people so they can see what she’s about. It forces Republicans to spend more resources on the races.”

Peery, a retired nurse, is one of dozens of Idaho Democrats seeking an office in Boise for the first time. Under new leadership, the Idaho Democratic Party has deployed a grassroots recruitment strategy to put a record number of candidates on the ballot. In fact, there’s a Democrat running in every district for the first time in at least 30 years.

Idaho’s Republican super-majority–like Indiana’s–is obsessed with culture war issues. The draconian abortion ban is front and center, but Idaho Republicans–like those in Indiana–are also focused on attacking LGBTQ+ rights and punishing librarians over violating book bans. There is also what Politico calls “bitter infighting” between the conservative and (somewhat more) moderate flanks of the GOP.  As a result, Idaho Democrats see an opportunity to present voters with a different vision for the future of the state.

High visibility events like the just-concluded Supreme Court abortion argument and the Court’s recent refusal to stay enforcement of a ban on gender-affirming care while the case is being litigated, have allowed Democrats to make their case to a wide public.

As the Politico article pointed out,

It’s also not just Idaho. More Democrats than usual are running in states with GOP-dominated legislatures like Tennessee, Iowa and North Carolina. Democrats have made gains in recent years in state legislative races — flipping chambers in Minnesota, Pennsylvania and Michigan — after more than a decade of nationwide GOP dominance. But Republicans still control 55 percent of state legislative seats, compared to 44 percent for Democrats.

Idaho’s Democrats aren’t delusional; the article notes that they are frank about the very low odds of sweeping the election in November. Instead, they’ve set a modest goal of knocking out the GOP’s supermajority over the next decade. And they’ve embraced the critically-important strategy of competing everywhere. 

More than 50 obstetricians have stopped practicing in Idaho since the state’s abortion ban, which makes it a crime with a prison sentence up to five years for anyone who performs the procedure. Most of those remaining doctors practice in the most populous counties — and only half of the state’s 44 counties have access to an obstetrician.

“It’s really been a hair on fire situation, even for people who are not historically Democrats,” said state House Rep. Ilana Rubel, the Democratic minority leader. “[Republicans] have really overshot the mark in a big way and we’ve seen in other states when Republican supermajorities do this, they can lose.”
There’s some evidence that Democrats’ assessment of Idahoans’ mood may be right. A long-running public policy survey conducted by Boise State University found — for the first time — that more respondents said they feel the state is on the wrong track rather than headed in the right direction. Among those unhappy with the state’s trajectory, the top reason cited was Republicans’ conservative supermajority.

Idaho’s GOP is also experiencing brutal infighting. If the political ads we’re seeing in Indiana are any indication, so is Indiana’s.

What Idaho Democrats understand–and Hoosier Democrats evidently don’t–is that you can’t take advantage of the GOP’s mounting problems if you don’t field opposing candidates. You can’t win if you don’t run.




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  1. Yep – You cannot beat something with nothing. I have yet to see a D running for ANYTHING in IN this year. Stealth campaigns I guess.

  2. Pat,
    Until your primary is over, you only spend what you have to, if you don’t have any opposition. Hopefully the dems are spending money on organizing their campaigns. Getting people to volunteer to make calls, to visit every constituent in the district, to drive voters to the polls, to make sure everyone is registered. It’s the best way to spend what little money they have at this time. Start advertising when they know who their opposition is, but plan for any one. Most voters aren’t paying attention until Labor Day. I understand that you and most of the commenters on this blog are very concerned now, but you know we’re not the typical voters. Call your local party headquarters and ask how you can help.

  3. Now that my kids (at least one of them) is coming into school age, I think it will be appropriate to try and get onto my local school board -The election in 2 years is probably when I could reasonably argue that I’m a parent in the school system. Got to keep an eye on the crazies and keep them from having too much power.

  4. Knowledge, even common sense, versus culture. That has become the left versus the right—Democrats versus Republicans.

    Anthropologists study culture as a social phenomenon. To be a tribe and collaborate rather than compete, groups needed to believe together, especially when they only knew what they experienced. That was the case when education was an unaffordable luxury for many families.

    So we have progressed through education but never left culture behind, even though there is much less need for it today. We enjoy it. It’s entertainment today, and it whiles away the purposeless hours we have now because of progress. What was a little education and much culture has now been reversed for some but not for all. The rebalanced education/culture distribution is not uniform among us. (About the only thing uniformly distributed among us is 50-50 gender.)

    We have stumbled into an environmental reality that we are not adapting to, which puts us at risk of failing as a species. The fact is that we are running out of enough earth and resources to serve our population. Nature has a solution; we don’t because we are not uniformly educated in the science necessary to understand the cost of doing nothing.

    Too much culture and too little education means nature will decide our fate as a species, and we will not like what we brought on.

  5. As I have noted previously in this blog (apologies, all), what often happens when DEMs “rise up” to run in RED-leaning geographies, they run strongly “progressive” candidates/campaigns and get, not just beaten, but massacred – one step forward, two backward. This is especially true when more than one DEM runs – the most LEFT one turns out the DEMs and wins. Run DEMS run – as moderates.

  6. Peggy – thanks for your excellent suggestion that people should call their local party headquarters to ask how they can help. In the rural counties this means contacting the county democrat party chair or if they know of a Democrat running for office contact them to ask how you can help. It isn’t helpful at all to comment and complain on blogs like this or facebook that more Dems need to run for office and say that they just need to work hard to get elected. If you’ve never run for office yourself then you really have no idea how difficult it is and you accomplish nothing by preaching about what others should be doing.

    In Indiana, especially in the rural counties, it is ridiculously difficult and basically impossible to get elected to even a township trustee position so any help at all is appreciated. A major reason Dems have stopped running for office in Indiana is that people expect you to do all the work yourself. The message from fellow Dems is “I want someone else to do all of the hard work to run for office that will represent my interests, but I don’t want to have to do any of the work to help them get elected – I just want to receive the benefits if they win”!

  7. What is our IN state party leadership doing to help Dem candidates? In the rural counties don’t receive any communication from the state party. What is Mike Schmul doing as our state party leader? Does anyone know?

  8. Things have started changing here in NC when a rural young DEM became the DEM state leader instead of a “pol”.

  9. There’s no disgrace in losing; there is disgrace in not challenging a majority rule that is interested only in acquisition and use of power rather than service to the people who sent them into office to govern.

    I once ran for circuit judge in a rural Republican county and lost twice in the same election. How so? Well, I lost the election by 126 votes, filed suit for recount, and lost (again) by 134 votes. The professors who talked me into running for judge then noted that I carried the county seat but lost to the farmers out in the county and wanted me to run for mayor in an upcoming election. I demurred on grounds that I knew a little about the law but nothing about sewers or police and fire oversight and was not good at making noontime speeches before the Chamber of Commerce and ribbon-cutting at shopping centers. Of course running for judicial office does not involve making policy as envisioned by Madison in coming up with his Separation of Powers doctrine (or didn’t, before the Supreme Court got into the business of legislating from the bench – see Dobbs et al.).

    We Democrats should recruit good candidates and fund their campaigns if we are to end the tyranny of Hoosier Republicans. We are going to do that with the gerrymander-free Big Three this fall (Governor, Senator, and AG), and I think we have a genuine chance to win all three given the likely Republicans’ choices of Banks, Braun, and other cave creatures along with the potential of a non-partisan vote by women who rightly decide to vote for their reproductive freedom.

    Vote, and bring Aunt Mary and Uncle Harold with you when you visit the polls.

  10. Hey, what’s the problem with being anticannibal? Do cannibals have rights? We all know the left promotes the rights of cannibals! I mean with all of the cannibals eating babies in pizza parlor basements, something has to be done! The taste for eating babies with pizza chasers, must be growing considering the right wants to throw more unwanted babies into the lion’s den!

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