Wow! Republicans worried about 2C Dem candidate!

As a Democrat, I was happy that some voters found a 30-year law that indicated there should be a runoff election for a city council seat if no candidate got a majority of the votes.  

Evangeline Beechler, chair of the Idaho State Democrats, was getting a second chance. 

What wasn’t there to like?

Then, came the postcards attacking Beechler for being a (gasp, ugh) DEMOCRAT. 

Attacks are like packing tape. Logic and facts may peel the tape off, but the adhesive that remains tarnishes the target and attracts dirt.   

  I’ve seen statewide candidates attacked, but, locally, the public voice of the Republicans has been civil. Sure, some vandals have slashed tires and made death threats,but the leaders have been courteous. 

Evangeline Beechler shaking hands with President Obama.
Republicans mailed this photo of Evangeline Beechler shaking hands with President Obama to thousands of voters.

Democrats who got the first postcards were confused–so Beechler was a friend of Obama and shared their support for the ACLU and Planned Parenthood. Very informative.    

But postcards that followed were worse, claiming Democrats had a “radical platform” and a threatening “secret agenda.”    

It wasn’t until the fourth postcard I grasped why Republicans were bringing the party’s weaponized national issues–immigration, abortion, and guns–to a city election.   

Republicans are treating a Canyon County Democrat as a serious rival for the first time during my time as an activist.  .

They are scared. 

For 30 years Caldwell has been safe territory for Republicans in partisan elections. Now, the histories of these two candidates–John McGee, once the Republican’s golden boy, against the Democrats’ state chair–made party loyalties an issue. 

Parties don’t have ready arguments dealing with issues like city services and recreation programs. 

But the Republicans have a backup plan. Nationally, the party has spent billions demonizing Democrats, aka liberals and progressives, through the years.   

It’s paid off in Idaho. Thousands of Idahoans who support public education and Medicaid Expansion continue to vote for Republicans who don’t. 

While Democrats are known for dithering, Republicans have found that repeating arguments forcefully over time, gains them a sense of authority that many accept, even it they are not in full agreement. 

So they attacked via postcard. 

 Yes,the ACLU is a liberal organization.  Ironically, its fight to prevent government infringement on individuals’ civil rights mirrors that of the NRA, only ACLU supports rights for a wide range of people, including minorities, women, the LGBT community and prisoners.  

 During the past two years, the ACLU has led the fight to stop the government from caging immigrant children and separating even toddlers and babies still breastfeeding from their parents.   

 That “radical platform” of the Idaho State Democrats supporting “abortion on demand” reads like this:  “We respect personal decisions that are private, including medical and reproductive decisions, religious practices, and political views,” and “we uphold an individual’s right to choose and their access to reproductive medical care.”

Democracy only makes sense if we trust people to make important decisions. 

And the Second Amendment Alliance suggested that since Beechler is a Democrat, she has a “hidden agenda” that threatens your guns.  

Both Caldwell and Nampa city councils have had Democratic members through the years and a bevy of Democrats govern Boise. Has anyone lost their guns?   

That “radical platform” of the Idaho Democrats asks only for scientific research on gun violence, universal background checks, and keeping guns out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers.  

Democrats share Idaho values.  

I don’t accuse all Republicans of wanting capital punishment for mothers who have miscarriages just because some Republican idiots in Kansas support it. Please stop claiming the most extreme Democrats represent all of us. 

Or do Republicans feel you can’t win without scary bogeyman issues?

Reflections on local elections

Boise isn’t the only city with a runoff election Dec. 3.  

Caldwell is planning one also–at least that was true Sunday as I wrote this.

Apparently, the council passed an ordinance requiring a “majority” vote back in 1989 and promptly forgot about it. For 30 years, candidates went on winning with pluralities.  

Then the notorious John McGee–who racked up criminal charges while representing District 10–got 39 percent of the votes.

And someone “discovered” the law.  

Probably no one except McGee is more surprised than second place candidate Evangeline Beechler

For now, the moral of the story seems to be that the consequences of acting above the law can go on and on–or not.  We’ll know more after Dec. 3

I’ve some other things on the recent election. 

For one, If Caldwell is an example, the Idaho legislature’s decision to change school board trustee elections from May to November did increase voter turnout.  

In May 2015 the number of voters who turned out to vote in Caldwell School District zones 2 and 4 were 214 and 145. In November this year, 801 and 411–or 3.75 and 2.75 as many. 

I see this as good–voters should vote. 

Yet, defeated West Ada trustee Mike Vuittonet felt that the additional voters were less informed than the traditional ones. Their decisions may simply based on whether a trustee raised taxes or not. (More discussion is at

Looking at election results, it seems that a lot of incumbents lost–20 out of 43.  

That would seem unusual since Incumbents have the advantage of name recognition, a track record, and fundraising experience.

But Idaho School Board executive Karen Echeverria doesn’t see the number as high; over 200 trustees did not have contested elections this year. (Again

That could mean a lot of voters are satisfied with the current policy setters or that they aren’t informed.  

This leads to a second reflection–we need to develop more channels to get information out.   

I imagine there are towns where people not only know the candidates, they can tell you about their kids. But local elections are hardly “local” in cities with populations over 8,000 or 10,000. The county provides a sample ballot and not a word more. 

And local campaigns are low-budget ones where candidates often make do with social media and one flyer to hand out door-to-door.  

City council candidates may get forums, but most others do not.  

Local newspapers do a great service by publishing interviews or surveys, but not enough people are subscribers. 

The problem isn’t new, but I heard more complaints this year. Voters were agreeing with Mike Vuittonet–they didn’t feel informed.  

 We need some good minds  brainstorming on what can be done.   

And this election again proved that a few votes can make a big difference.    

That’s potentially true at every election, but it’s practically the norm for local elections. 

Nampa District’s supplemental levy lost by 10 votes–or 0.13 percent. Swan Valley District’s lost by 39 votes or 16 percent. And the two districts with successful levies–Lake Pend Oreille and Minidoka–squeaked through with 51 percent.

Wilder City Council candidate Guadalupe Garcia lost by one vote. (Didn’t Wilder have a tie with a coin-flip not too many years back?)  Just four years ago the Caldwell School District had all three trustee races decided by four votes. This year the two contested trustee seats were decided by 11 and 31 votes.

Don’t get irritated about last minute calls reminding you to vote.

They are confirming that your vote is important.      

ACLU – Boise 21Sep Training

ACLU of Idaho
Take Action Now
Dear Rex,

We are excited to announce that the application for the 2019 Statewide Activist Academy Tour is now open for the BoiseCoeur D’Alene and Moscow training locations!

Join the ACLU of Idaho staff and other emerging social justice leaders for a day-long training where you’ll build foundational knowledge in advocacy and grassroots activism.

While online submissions are preferred, applications can also be submitted in person or via email. Get a printable Activist Academy application.

Applications can be mailed to:

Activist Academy
ACLU of Idaho
P.O. Box 1897, Boise, ID 83701

To make sure the Activist Academy is accessible to all people, regardless of financial status, the ACLU of Idaho has limited money to cover some travel expenses. On your application, please provide an estimate of your travel expenses as requested and a staff member from the ACLU will follow-up with you.

Do you need accessibility accommodations? There is room on the application for accessibility accommodations. Please use this space to list any accessibility accommodations you may need on the day of the Activist Academy, such as print size for training materials, audio/visual needs, language access, dietary accommodations, etc. An ACLU of Idaho staff member will follow up with you and any needed accommodations mentioned will remain confidential.

We’ll be sending out updates and further information as get we get closer to the trainings, but please feel free reach out to Jeremy Woodson at or 208 344 9750 ext. 1211 with any questions.

We look forward to seeing you there,

Jeremy Woodson
Community Engagement Manager, ACLU of Idaho

Legislature: Democrats and Republican Relations

Legislative watchers were treated to some rare entertainment recently when ultra conservative legislators tried to blast a Democratic-sponsored resolution out of the House Ways & Means Committee.

Just what motivated an ultra conservative pair—Ron Nate and Heather Scott—to fight for a Democratic proposal?

House Resolution 1, sponsored by Boise Democrat Ilana Rubel, would require that any bill sponsored by five Republicans and five Democrats be guaranteed a hearing and a recorded vote in committee.

One would like to think that all bills with significant bi-partisan support are heard. Not so. Currently a proposal to end the sales tax on groceries has 48 sponsors—nearly half of the legislature– but Gary Collins, chair of the House Revenue and Taxation Committee, won’t authorize printing.    Collins says he supports ending the tax, but the time isn’t right.

It was no surprise that House members voted not to consider Rubel’s resolution—no attempt to by-pass a committee chair has succeeded in decades.

The surprise was that nine out of the 11 House Democrats voted against it. The few quoted by reporters praised Rubel’s proposal, but not the process. They were clearly reluctant to vote with far right representatives against Republican moderates they work with daily.

In explaining his vote, Minority Leader Mat Erpelding said the resolution wouldn’t have helped 10 Democratic bills currently held in Ways & Means because none would attract five Republican sponsors.

Imagine. Bills so “Democrat” that not even five of our 88 Republican legislators would support them. Could they be the same ten bills blocked in Ways and Means that Marty Trillhaase of the LewistonTribune wrote of Feb. 14? None has advanced.

Two were proposed by Erpelding. HB 72 proposes increasing Idaho’s minimum wage to $12 by 2019. HB 69 would add the words “sexual discrimination and gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act.

John McCrostie’s proposals would outlaw attempts at forced “conversion” of gays and remove the ban against gay marriage ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court. Melissa Wintrow’s would have Idaho endorse the Equal Rights Amendment again and ban discussion of wage history from job interviews.

Do all Idaho Republican legislators oppose good wages and rights for gays, women, and workers?

Rubel, who once studied at Harvard under Elizabeth Warren, has three measures besides the ill-fated House Resolution 1 stuck in Ways & Means. HBs 59-61 would add Idaho to the list of states requiring presidential electors to cast votes for the candidate who wins the popular vote, allow Idahoans to update their voting registration when getting other state identification, and require that former employers prove damages when suing over breach of non-competition agreements.

Since both George W. Bush (in 2000) and Donald Trump lost the popular vote, Republicans are not about to change presidential elections any time soon. But it’s hard to imagine not even five support streamlining voter registration or making it possible for people to find a new job.

One might think there was a bias against Democratic bills, however reasonable, but last week the House Ways & Means Committee did pass a Democratic bill.

The bill, sponsored by Reps. Paulette Jordan  and Sally Toone, would grant up to $3000 a year for four years in student loan forgiveness/payments to teachers and counselors working in rural Idaho schools. Republican Brent Crane of Nampa made the motion to pass the bill.

At least, some Republicans care that Idaho classrooms were short 120 teachers last fall.



Non-partisan positions in Canyon County

Interested voters may file from now until March 17 to be included on ballots in May.  Those interested in running may contact the Idaho Democrats for more information.

Canyon Highway District No. 4 District Supervisor 1
Canyon Highway District No. 4 District Supervisor 2
Golden Gate Highway District No.3 District Supervisor 1
Golden Gate Highway District No.3 District Supervisor 2
Nampa Highway District No.1 District Supervisor 1
Nampa Highway District No.1 District Supervisor 2
Notus-Parma Highway District No.2 District Supervisor 1
Notus-Parma Highway District No.2 District Supervisor 3
Kuna Library District Trustee Seat 1
Kuna Library District Trustee Seat 2
Lizard Butte Library District Trustee Seat 2
Lizard Butte Library District Trustee Seat 3
Lizard Butte Library District Trustee Seat 5
Wilder Free Library District Board of Trustees Seat
Wilder Free Library District Board of Trustees Seat
Wilder Free Library District Board of Trustees Seat
Caldwell School District #132 Trustee Zone 1
Caldwell School District #132 Trustee Zone 5
Homedale School District #370 Trustee Zone 3
Homedale School District #370 Trustee Zone 4
Kuna Jt. School District #3 Trustee Zone 3
Kuna Jt. School District #3 Trustee Zone 4
Marsing Jt. School District #363 Trustee Zone 1
Marsing Jt. School District #363 Trustee Zone 3
Marsing Jt. School District #363 Trustee Zone 5
Melba School District #136 Trustee Zone 4
Melba School District #136 Trustee Zone 5
West Ada School District #2 Trustee Zone 1
West Ada School District #2 Trustee Zone 3
Middleton School District #134 Trustee Zone 1
Middleton School District #134 Trustee Zone 2
Middleton School District #134 Trustee Zone 4
Nampa School District #131 Trustee Zone 3
Nampa School District #131 Trustee Zone 4
Nampa School District #131 Trustee Zone 5
Notus School District #135 Trustee Zone 1
Notus School District #135 Trustee Zone 3
Notus School District #135 Trustee Zone 5
Parma School District #137 Trustee Zone 1
Parma School District #137 Trustee Zone 2
Parma School District #137 Trustee Zone 5
Vallivue School District #139 Trustee Zone 1
Vallivue School District #139 Trustee Zone 2
Wilder School District #133 Trustee Zone 1
Wilder School District #133 Trustee Zone 2
Wilder School District #133 Trustee Zone 5