The 2018 elections are over, but the politics continues. Just on how this year went, and what is in store for the future, we talked with heads of the Idaho County Democrat and Republican parties.
Idaho County Democrats: “We’ll continue to play it as we see it”
“We really appreciate everyone who ran,” said John Andrechak, chair for the Idaho County Democrats, who added, “I don’t think I’d have the guts to run for dog catcher.”
This was a hard election year, according to Andrechak, and several candidates -- Cristina McNeil, Kristin Collum, Jill Humble and Cindy Wilson -- stood out for running lean campaigns but yet still getting across a large portion of the state, including numerous visits to communities in North Central Idaho.
“They covered a lot of ground, and it helped the system work by giving people a choice, and they went to the polls, and I’m grateful for that.”
From the results, there looks to have been a gain in votes for Democrats, he said, “a swing to blue in both of our districts,” with news reports listing a 10 percent increase in both congressional one and two.
“Proposition 2 [Medicaid expansion] did well. A lot of effort went into that,” he said, with that issue still needing time to process on how it was received by the public. Though nonpartisan, Andrechak said, its support – “along the blue side by the party and its candidates” -- and its opposition broke along party lines. Support was broad – passage by 60.6 percent of the vote – but yet that didn’t transfer over into giving enough lift to state Democrat candidates, he said.
“It will be interesting how the Republican legislature handles it,” Andrechak said.
The challenges are obvious when promoting Democrat candidates and issues, according to Andrechak, but there are many avenues to pursue this.
“We all respect our neighbors, but it’s red, its conservative, it’s Republican,” he said. County Democrats look to encourage local candidates to step up and support those who run, a “tough goal,” he admitted. In the lack of this, they put their support toward state candidates and look to the initiatives being proposed. Next year, they will look at candidates for school boards, and long-term the work is already under way for the 2020 presidential cycle.
“We’ll continue to play it as we see it, with the best hand that’s dealt to us,” he said.
“In my opinion, what people look for is authenticity,” Andrechak said. “They may not support you, they may not vote for you, but you get farther with them with being authentic than putting your finger in the air.”
Idaho County Republicans: “…continuing to pick up seam on the conservative side”
“It was a tough race,” said Marilyn Giddings, chair for the Idaho County Republican Central Committee, on Proposition 2. “Our Republican committee worked hard on that because we’re opposed to socialized medicine in government, dependency on Medicaid,” she said. Statewide, the Idaho Freedom Foundation worked hard against Prop. 2, and at the local level, “We campaigned against it pretty hard in Idaho County, and ours was one of the few that voted no.”
Statewide, she said, about 20 new Republicans came onto the legislature, with nine of those leaning conservative, which is a gain over two conservatives who lost Nov. 6.
“We’ve seen this movement happing over the past several years and it’s continuing to pick up steam on the conservative side,” Giddings said. “Now, the House of Representatives will be much more conservative than it has been, and that might make a big impact in Idaho on who the leadership is.”
However, Giddings sees a challenge coming, as highlighted with four legislative seats in the Treasure Valley shifting in this election from Republican to Democrat.
“That’s kind of significant for Boise, but what that tells me, locally,” she said, due in part to the population boom in southern Idaho, “is there’s a difference in ideology in urban Idaho and rural Idaho, and those ideologies are very, very different. Rural Idaho is very conservative, and in Idaho County we certainly are, so we’ll be getting more pushback from urban areas being more liberal.”
What started well before this election and will continue on from here are efforts to maintain the GOP’s core beliefs integrity. Giddings reviewed last summer’s Republican convention where the county sponsored a resolution to sanction Republicans who won’t remain loyal to the party, specifically those who run under the GOP banner but don’t following the party platform after they are elected.
“Our intention is to follow up the resolution with a rule that has teeth,” she said. Come January, a bill is expected to be submitted to make this a rule for the state party.
“So, when you get a representative who is voting for big government, raising taxes, Medicare, and other issues in opposition to the Republican platform, they can be brought before the state central committee [with representatives of each of the 44 counties] and evaluated on whether to be endorsed by the Republican party. I think it will influence state officials, who will be paying attention more to what it means to be Republican than voting willy-nilly or to add to their political clout.”
A group of state Republicans are also looking to this session, Giddings said, for legislation to change local offices to party partisan status; meaning, candidates for school and hospital boards, and city councils, for example, would be partisan connected. In the past, partisan politics hasn’t been pushed to the local level, “as the belief was it was not really party-affiliated,” she said. “But now, the thinking is it really is, and Republicans are being dramatically affected by the commissions, school boards and mayors who are passing very liberal policies,” which she added is affecting every level of government.
“This would have a big impact on our local races,” she said. “The idea for this is for people to know who they are electing.”