Make this the year you run for the legislature 

Currently, we have four legislative districts in Canyon County. District 10 is most of Caldwell, District 12 is north Nampa, District 13 is south Nampa, and District 11 is most of the rest of the county. Each legislative district elects three legislators every two years – two State Representatives and one State Senator. So, that’s twelve Canyon County legislative seats that are up for election in 2020. 

We are actively recruiting candidates for 2020 in all four Canyon districts. At this week’s Canyon County Democrats meeting, we identified three people who are planning to file to run for the legislature this year: Chelsea Goana-Lincoln in District 10 and Pat Day Hartwell and Chelle Gluch in District 12. 

If you have ever thought about running for the legislature, now is the time. 2020 is shaping up to be a big year. A lot of voters are getting interested in volunteering and they can help you get elected and make a difference in our state. 

And you can win. I know Democrats haven’t won here in awhile, but there are indications that is changing.  

Caldwell’s District 10 is a particularly promising place for a Democratic victory. The district is divided into 14 precincts, numbered from 7 to 20, with boundaries roughly from Farmway to Midland and Hwy 44 to Homedale. According to the Secretary of State’s website, District 10 has 18,888 registered voters. 

In 2018, Proposition 2, the initiative to expand Medicaid in Idaho, received 62.7% of the vote in District 10, winning in 13 out of its 14 precincts. Admittedly, this victory does not correlate directly to Democratic success. Proposition 2 had supporters from both parties. Democratic candidates and lawmakers backed the measure overwhelmingly while Republicans were divided. Outgoing Republican Governor Butch Otter supported Proposition 2 but current Governor Brad Little did not. And once the measure passed statewide, Republican legislators pushed back hard during the 2019 legislative session by voting for several limits (aka sideboards) to Medicaid’s expansion.

Even if a ballot measure with only Democratic support were to win in District 10, it wouldn’t indicate that Democratic candidates could also win. Ballot measures that champion Democratic causes get more votes than Demoratic candidates. In the same election that voters voted for Medicaid expansion they voted for candidates who opposed it. This happened all across the state. 

The good news is that some Democratic candidates also did well in District 10 in 2018. Cindy Wilson, candidate for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, won 49.3% of the D10 vote. 

Let me say that again – a Democratic candidate won 49.3% of the vote in District 10. 

This is a candidate who is not from here, does not live here, and did not do a lot of voter outreach here, and yet she almost won here. Let that sink in. 

Wilson got over 50% of the vote in 7 of the 14 precincts in District 10.  

If Wilson could do that well, imagine what a candidate who lives here and actively campaigns here could do. 

Districts 12 and 13 have 2018 results nearly as good as District 10’s and District 11, has been showing continuous improvements. 

If you’ve been thinking about running for the legislature, now is the time. The sooner you get started with your campaign plan and your voter outreach the better. 

If you are worried that you have no idea what running for legislature would take, write us at CanyonCountyDems@gmail.com. We’ll talk to you about what you need to do and about the support we can provide with fundraising, campaign planning, recruiting volunteers, and voter outreach. 

The filing deadline for legislative candidates is March 13th, but you do not need to wait until then to get started. 

We are looking forward to hearing from you. That email again: CanyonCountyDems@gmail.com. 

Idaho election rules in flux

The moment political junkies around the country have been waiting for is less than a week away: Iowa voters will caucus on Monday, Feb. 3. New Hampshire,  Nevada, and South Carolina primaries will follow soon.    

Admittedly, this year Republicans won’t have a lot at stake in these contests.  Yet, there will be clues to how voters may think in November. Did suburban housewives select Democratic ballots? Was turnout among young voters as high or higher than in 2018?  Does it look like voters are ready for a woman president?   

.The deluge comes on Super Tuesday, March 3, when 14 states, including California,hold primaries.   

On Tuesday, March 10, six states–including Idaho–will cast ballots. Seven more states will vote before the end of the month. 

By March 31, we will know how nearly two-thirds of the Democratic convention delegates will vote on the first ballot. 

That hasn’t been true before because California–with its 415 regular delegates–has traditionally voted in June. (Idaho is allotted 20 delegates.)  

I’ve heard a lot of questions about the changes in Idaho’s election process this year–and it is complicated.  Here’s my best shot at the answers.

Are Idaho Democrats having a presidential primary or caucuses this year?  

Both–though the caucuses will not resemble the huge ones of 2008 and 2016.

The March 10 primary will determine how many supporters each candidate will get at the state convention.  In theory, up to six candidates may poll over the 15% required to earn delegates to the state convention. Barely a dozen Idaho counties, however, are allotted six or more delegates.  

Attendees at the county caucuses on Saturday, April 4, will divide according to the candidate they support and select delegate(s) to fill the slots at the state convention in June. The number of allotted delegates and the location of each county caucus are listed under 2020 primary elections at www.idahodems.org. (Note: Arrive early; traditionally, doors close when caucussing begins.) 

Those at the state convention will elect Idaho’s 20 committed delegates to the National Democratic Convention.  

 What’s this about party affiliation?  Registration forms in Idaho now require voters to state their party preference–unaffiliated is an option. Parties may select which affiliations qualify voters to receive their ballots at the presidential primary in March and the general in May.

Republicans are very consistent; primary voters must be registered Republicans.

Democrats are all over the place. Democrats and unaffiliated voters may vote the Democratic ballot on March 10; only Democrats may participate in the caucuses; and any voter may select a Democratic ballot in the general primary. 

Current rules allow persons to change their party affiliation at the polls for the March 10 primary and at the Democratic delegate selection caucuses. Only those who affiliate with the Republican party on or before March 13 may vote in the Republican general primary. 

Any chance these rules will change soon?  

Definitely. A bill already in its third reading in the Idaho House  (HO 322) would require voters to change their party affiliation on or before the final day of candidate filing for an election.  For future presidential primaries that day would be mid-December. 

Unaffiliated voters could still select a party ballot when voting, but they would no longer be unaffiliated. Their ballot choice would become a matter of public record.         

The bill’s emergency clause would make the day the bill was signed the final day for changing affiliation prior to the March 10 primary.  

The form for changing party affiliation is available at https://idahovotes.gov/voting/.  It can be mailed or emailed to your county clerk.

Canvassers at your door are good news for democracy

Political canvassing or door knocking is when someone comes to your door to talk to you about politics. The canvasser may just be doing a survey, or they may want your signature on a petition or a vote in a coming campaign.  

You may think political canvassing is awesome. And if so, you are right! It’s been around since the Roman Republic. Research shows it is the best way to get votes.  Winning candidates all over the country canvass to persuade voters and  get them to the polls. 

Or you may think canvassing is strange and annoying: The conversations feel awkward and uncomfortable; it’s intrusive that the canvasser knows who you are and where you live; and sharing your political opinions with a stranger at your door is not on your to do list. 

But canvassing is important for candidates–and for all who support democracy.   

Canvassing works, which is why candidates in contested races do it. 

From the outside, campaigns look like a lot of email fundraising, Facebook and Instagram posts, and advertising, direct mail, fancy donor dinners, yard signs and bumper stickers, speeches, debates, and polls. While those things are important, politicians who have won tough, contested races will tell you that field teams (canvassers) are by far the most important part of a campaign. 

Study after study has shown that canvassing works. An article in Vox titled, Experiments show this is the best way to win campaigns. But is anyone actually doing it?, details some of the research about canvassing. Google the topic and you’ll see decades of research supporting this.  

And right now a hoard of political canvassers have descended on Iowa. They are knocking on doors and making phone calls trying to get as many voters to commit to caucus for their Democratic presidential candidate as they can. This Marie Claire article gives a day in the life of a couple of this year’s Iowa canvassers: What It’s Like to Be a Presidential Campaign Field Organizer

A strong local example of how canvassing works is Steve Berch, State Representative from District 15 in Boise. He canvassed and canvassed and canvassed his way to victory. When he won his fifth race, he had knocked on over 20,000 (!!!) doors and was the only Democrat to win in his district. 

Former Representative Mat Erpelding, Representative Melissa Wintrow, and Ada County Commissioner Diana Lachiondo, speaking on a panel together last summer, told great stories about canvassing and pressed prospective candidates to build their field teams early. Erpelding advised candidates to just put up  a quick and inexpensive website and then focus on their field teams. 

Canvassing has been shown to work, and winning candidates at all levels of government do it. Political canvassing also strengthens democracy. 

Talking to our neighbors about our values is a good thing.

The right to govern ourselves seems like a pretty obvious idea, but democracy is relatively rare. Our right to get together and make decisions about who will govern us –to put it simply — is a pretty big deal. 

It can be distasteful to talk about politics. In many cases, the political is personal. For example, if you are canvassing for a candidate that says all immigrants from Mexico are criminals, that is very personal for someone who has immigrated from Mexico or someone who has family who immigrated from Mexico, or for someone who knows or works with someone who has immigrated from Mexico, or for any decent person who thinks people should be treated with respect. So, it can be hard to have conversations around this candidate without things getting awkward (at best). 

But we can’t have it both ways. If we value our right to collectively pick the people who govern us we have to stop refusing to talk to each other about the issues that are important to us and who we want to govern us. 

 Opening up to each other about our values, wants, and needs leads to a stronger democracy. 

Getting out in our neighborhoods and our towns and having these conversations leads to a better understanding of what is important to us, what we need, and what we want, and, therefore, who we should vote for. 

Having said that, canvassing works best when canvassers are working off of targeted ‘universes.’ It is not a good use of campaign resources to have canvassers for Joe Biden knocking on the door of someone who loves Trump, has always loved Trump, and will always love Trump. It is important to talk about politics, but there is no need to antagonize each other when it can be avoided. 

Have I convinced you? Canvassing works, winning issue campaigns and winning candidates do it, and canvassing strengthens our democracy. 

So, greet that next canvasser that comes to your door with a smile, ask them questions about the issue or candidate they are working for, offer them your honest ideas and opinions, and send them off with a nice “thank you for strengthening our democracy.”

And volunteer to canvass for a candidate or issue you care about. You can make a real difference by simply walking around chatting with people in your community. 

Ed funding choice: Rice or Reclaim

It’s great that Caldwell Sen. Jim Rice recognizes there is a need to lower property taxes. 

Didn’t Sen, Jim Risch address the same concern while governor?

And both Republicans came up with the same solution–raise the sales tax. 

The plans aren’t identical.  Risch’s action took away $260 million in school funding and replaced it with $210 million in sales tax without guaranteeing the sales tax money would go to schools.  

Rice’s plan would replace $214 million in supplemental property tax levies with an estimated $250 million in sales tax dedicated to education. (Extra funds could increase current school funding, go to a “rainy day” account for schools, or replace general funds now going to schools.)

But school districts would lose the power to request supplemental levies. 

Those who remember the recession of 2007 understand why that’s a concern.

Thirty-three states raised taxes during the 2007 recession. Idaho legislators saw this as a chance to lure businesses from other states, so they lowered taxes instead.  

Revenue fell 11% and legislators cut state funding for education by 20–at least that’s what they claimed in campaign literature.   

Idaho voters responded by approving supplemental levies in record amounts; they understood that kids’ development can’t wait until it’s affordable. 

Can voters today trust future legislatures to do better by our children?  

Sen. Rice has suggested that we ask them. The legislature could present his plan as a referendum for Idaho voters to pass or reject–like the Luna Laws. 

So voters may be voting this November on two different plans for funding education,  Rice’s proposal, as submitted by the legislature, and the Invest in Idaho initiative for which Reclaim Idaho volunteers are gathering signatures around the state. 

Invest in Idaho cites a decrease in supplemental levies as one benefit, but the emphasis is on increasing funding for schools.  .  

“We’ve all seen the costs of Idaho’s failure to invest in education: outdated and torn-up textbooks; overcrowded classrooms; underfunded special education; unfunded kindergarten; cuts to career-technical training; poverty wages for support staff; qualified teachers leaving the state in droves because Idaho will not pay competitive salaries” (https://www.reclaimidaho.org/our-campaign).

And the plans for funding are entirely different.

Rice’s plan would raise Idaho’s sales tax rate to 7%. That would place it in a four-way tie for second highest in the nation. 

Merchants along the borders with sales-tax-free Oregon and Montana will be at an even greater disadvantage.

 And people in the middle and low income brackets would pay a higher rate than the wealthy–that’s a must for any tax proposed by a Republican. A person who spends most of their income buying necessities pays on more of their income than those who spend only half–and Idaho is notorious for waiving sales taxes on airplanes and such for its wealthiest citizens.  

 Reclaim Idaho’s plan would not increase taxes for those with middle and low incomes.  

The total raise would be less–about $170 million–and would fall on only a few. 

The tax on corporate taxable income would be restored to its previous level of 7%–a cost of about $4 per $1000 in profit. 

Currently individuals in Idaho pay nearly 7% on all income over $11,554. Invest in Idaho would add another tax bracket; earnings over $250,000 would be taxed at nearly 10%–an additional $30 per $1000 earned.  

It’d be great if legislators simply enacted Invest in Idaho. It’d save a lot of time and shoe leather for volunteers. 

And there’s always the chance that voters could pass both plans next November. 

Wouldn’t that make for some battles during the legislature’s 2021 session?  

Book Review – REPRESENT: The Woman’s Guide to Running For Office and Changing the World

When President Trump won the presidency in 2016, June Diane Raphael, producer-actor-podcaster-feminist, thought that if Trump could win elected office, she certainly could too. She had no idea where to start. She couldn’t find a running-for-office guidebook with the information she wanted and so she teamed up with Kate Black, former Vice President of EMILY’s List, to write REPRESENT: The Woman’s Guide to Running for Office and Changing the World. REPRESENT inspires women who are thinking that maybe, possibly, they might want to run for office one day and encourages them to run and to run now.

REPRESENT is part inspiration and part hard truths about the difficulties of running for office. On the inspiration side, REPRESENT presents academic research as well as testimonials from women who have run for office and won. Did you know that a 2011 study found that men are 60% more likely to feel qualified to run for office than women? And that’s not all. During the same study a majority of men who felt they were not qualified to run still said they would consider running anyway. 

Ayanna Pressley (US Rep from MA) explains that self-doubt was one of the problems she had to overcome before she ran for Congress. She worried she wasn’t smart enough and that she hadn’t done enough to run for public office. She eventually realized she was qualified because she had the desire to serve and her experiences would make her an empathetic and effective leader. And now she’s a Congressperson. 

The authors tell you in all caps headers that “YES, YOU ARE QUALIFIED TO RUN FOR OFFICE” and “YOUR EXPERIENCE IS YOUR EXPERTISE.” And they point out that “Men. Are. Not. Waiting.” Men are not waiting until they have more experience in their careers or more experience in local public office before they run for a state or federal office. And if you need more reminders later in the book, each chapter ends with “Keep Reading. Stay Working. We need you.” 

REPRESENT doesn’t sugar coat how hard it can be to run for office, the book holds some hard truths. Depending on the office you are running for, campaigning takes time and money. You may have to get help with some of your current responsibilities like caring for an elderly family member or taking kids to sports and activities. Or you may have to ask for some time off from your job so you can spend time campaigning. In the end, win or lose, the work of campaigning for office will open up new opportunities for you and so the time you invest will be well worth it. 

Women face even bigger hurdles than men when it comes to raising money. Women have accumulated less wealth than men, women get paid less for equivalent work, and women don’t have the same access to networks of wealth that men do. And, let’s face it, even in the best of circumstances raising money can be difficult and uncomfortable, 

REPRESENT offers advice about how to figure out how much money you will need, how to get started raising money, and organizations that can help build your fundraising expertise. Crisanta Duran (former CO State Speaker of the House) provides her advice, “Lead with your ideas and values for the position you’re running for. It’s easier and more effective than asking ‘Hey can you contribute money to me and my campaign?” 

REPRESENT stops short of telling you how to actually win your campaign. There is no information about calculating your win number, defining your universes, cutting turf for door knocking, setting up your office, or training your volunteers. 

REPRESENT provides a realistic way to determine if you should run. It tells you to quit worrying about things you don’t need to worry about (am I qualified?) and instead focus on the real issues you may deal with (can I rearrange things so I have the time? can I raise the money?). All of this comes with a healthy dose of encouragement to go for it. You are needed at the table. 

Start Running! We need you.