Thursday, January 3, 2008

There's Something Happening Here, Redux

Tomorrow, January 4th, the Idaho Democratic Party is having a State Central Committee meeting via conference calls at three locations. The initial reason for the meeting was for a discussion on amendments for caucus rules that made explicit the procedure for caucus absentee pledges. When Richard Stallings, our most recent IDP Chair stepped down on December 20th, the meeting suddenly morphed into voting for a new IDP Chair.

Well, that bothered me, and many others, it seemed, because of the urgency that surrounded it. Many central committee members (chairs and state committee men and women) work for a living but volunteer our time. December is usually a rather slow month, politically speaking, and many of us put aside our Democratic duties to tend to the holidays and family and so forth. So when the announcement came that we now had to elect a chair, a number of us felt that this was too soon, too quick and too hurried. We quickly received one nomination but no others were forthcoming. Nominations could be made on the floor, but there would be no physical floor for this meeting since it was via conference call.

So I started calling around to see if others felt like I did about the hurry and the single nomination and what was going on. Boy did I get an earful!

My first inkling that there may be more here than meets the eye came when I heard that our IDP in-group just wanted to appoint Jerry Brady as the Chair. Well, the by-laws don't allow that so that appointment, or even nomination, became "difficult" because Brady had already endorsed Walt Minnick over Larry Grant and Rand Lewis for the District 1 Congressional Seat. I questioned the word "difficult" suggesting "impossible" instead. After all, how can you have an IDP Chair who has already publicly endorsed a primary candidate??? That seems rather unethical to me.... but perhaps that is politics as usual and one shouldn't be worried about ethics.
But then I never received a notification about a nomination for Jerry Brady. I, and the other Central Committee members only received the nomination for Keith Roark, a man well-qualified for the position. Not only was he the Democratic nominee in 2002 for Attorney General, his resume indicates a life dedicated to service to his community. Just what we need for the IDP. And, I heard that he may actually work as hard, if not harder than our dynamite Vice-Chair, Jeanne Buell. Now I really like this guy.

In the meantime, word also comes through from others who just feel something fishy is up in Boise, that Cecil Andrus, whose recommendation of John Foster as Executive Director took precedent over the fact that he was least qualified for the job, perhaps wanted Brady to be Chair. I also heard that the strategy was for Foster's nominee to declare on the floor and not beforehand, and so Brady would be thought popular by name recognition alone.

And then I heard that it all has to do with money and fund-raising capabilities given that the IDP is running low, so to speak....

So now I'm wondering why Brady, who has always struck me as a man of integrity, would pursue the Chair position having already endorsed Minnick. And I wonder why, after the great united front at the last State Central Committee Meeting, John Foster would suddenly be pushing for a possibly dividing IDP Chair. I mean, how can a chair be said to be fair if he has already endorsed one candidate over another. Like what does he say, "Oh, I can be fair now and I'll put my endorsement aside." Give me a break! The damage has been done.

Finally, I've heard that the argument for electing Brady over Roark is we should really question whether we want our top three party leaders all from Blaine County. This includes House Minority Leader Wendy Jaquet and Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett. Hey, these two were elected by the people, the public. If they both happen to be from Blaine County then perhaps that suggests that Blaine County has a lot of Democrats. Now Roark would like to be IDP Chair and he happens to be from Blaine. So what? That suggests to me that he not only has a great background in community service but great experience with Democrats as well. What better choice for an IDP Chair?

Actually this whole situation could be a lot worse, or possibly even better than I think. After all I had one person already figuring out what exactly happened and he surmised that Stallings knew that a core group wanted to have all their compatriots leading the party, so he stepped down early to thwart them. Now this is a complete conjecture but when secrecy is in the air, people try to figure out what's really going on. It's human behavior. It's why detective stories and mysteries sell so well. It's why we have conspiracy theories. But it's also why there are those who get so carried away with their power that they forget open government, due process, accountability, and honesty.

I'd like to know the truth. So many Idaho Democrats worked too hard in the last several years to nourish the grassroots of this party to now have their work ignored in a new top-down approach that thinks money is going to turn Idaho blue.


Julie Fanselow said...

Interesting stuff. Thanks for standing up to have this process be held in public, with due dilligence.

I am wondering about the endorsements you cite. Cecil Andrus has definitely endorsed Minnick, but I don't believe Brady has.

However, Brady has kinda sorta already endorsed Barack Obama: The news was broken at RSR a few weeks ago, but immediately pulled back - right about the time Stallings stepped down. Coincidence?

I understand nominations will be taken from the floor tonight, too. My dream candidate would be Brian Cronin, who was great as Ada County chair - and Ada has way more Dems than Blaine!

Anonymous said...

Nothing like a "cut and paste" conspiracy theory. I noticed a similar posting at another blog. Almost the same stuff as here, including the reference to "John" Brady. Idaho Democrats would be lucky to have either Keith Roark or Jerry Brady as state chair. While I'm not sure who's behind the "Good ol' boys" bs, it's well-known that Grant has been talking to several folks in North Idaho about the election of a new chair. Last I checked, Grant was running against Lewis and Minnick, not Cecil Andrus (that'd be a riot!). Given the fact that there's less than six weeks until the primary, you'd think that Grant would be spending his time on his own campaign, rather than screwing around with the state party.

Julie Fanselow said...

Another fact check, this time for the anonymous commenter:

Idaho Democrats will gather for our presidential caucus on February 5, a month away. But we'll hold our regular primary in May as usual - so Grant et al have four-plus months left to campaign.

Anonymous said...

This post began with a whine about the "too quick and too hurried" election of a state party chair.

Should the party go without a chair until after the caucus in 4 weeks? Or would it be better to wait until after the biggest annual Idaho Democratic Party event -the Frank Church Banquet on March 1? Or should the party remain under temporary leadership until after the primary in May?

In a presidential election year, should the party not press for clear and consistent leadership as early as possible??

How does that benefit Idaho Democrats at all?

Linda/IdahoRocks said...

Seems to me, Anonymous, that the biggest whine is from you. Honesty in government, open meetings, fair elections, due process, these are Democratic principles. Read the blog. Pretend that you live in a glass house. If you want to know why the results were 57/15, read my suggestions in my next blog.

Linda/IdahoRocks said...

On the day Minnick announced Brady endorsed him. Tonight at the Central Committee Meeting, Brady acknowledged that he had endorsed Minnick but added that he did so because Minnick was a friend who had helped him tremendously in his own race for Governor. It was quite commendable and certainly responded honestly to questions that I had posted. I have nothing but respect for Brady, but this whole approach to the IDP chair seems to have gone badly wrong for him.

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