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David Ripley: Idaho Liberal “Republican” Plays Spoiler

October 19th, 2010 by Halli

Idaho Chooses Life

Conservative candidates across the nation have been complaining about the failure of “establishment” Republicans to support GOP nominees who defeated moderates in primary contests. In some cases, like Alaska, the defeated moderate has actually gone so far as to continue the primary campaign forward – for the distinct purpose of defeating their conservative Republican nemesis.

Much of the same dynamic is playing-out up north, in Latah County.

Many were shocked to see long-time liberal senator Gary Schroeder defeated in the May primary. Not because he didn’t deserve defeat by Republicans – but because he has long survived conservative challenges via substantial cross-over votes from Democrat activists who believed he was the best deal they could get. But this year, Democrats decided they wanted a real Democrat to serve in the Idaho Senate and let Schroeder fend for himself.

After some 18 years in the Senate, Schroeder was finally turned-out by Republicans.

Needless to say, the newly-minted “Citizen” Schroeder is quite angry about his new civilian status. So angry, in fact, that he has actually written letters to the editor urging that Latah County voters oppose the Republican to whom he lost the Primary. Despite holding the office of precinct committeeman, Schroeder makes it clear that he intends to vote for the Democrat senate candidate.

There seems to be no mechanism in place for the Republican Party to discipline Mr. Schroeder for his gross lack of loyalty to the party which has put up with him for decades.

Be that as it may, things took a very ugly turn last week. Thousands of postcards began showing up in mailboxes across the county, supposedly from a group called “Friends of Bouma”. In the postcard, the ugly spectre of religious bigotry is played in the hopes of alienating voters from supporting Gresham Bouma for Senate.

The only problem is that Bouma knew nothing of the mailing, nor is there any such group.

Even the Democrats have been forced to denounce the mailing, which attempts to pit Evangelicals against Mormons, Catholics against agnostics.

As of this writing, no one has stepped forward to claim “credit” for this sordid campaign sleaze. And no one probably will. The only hope is that the prosecuting attorney will be able to uncover evidence about the project: where it was printed, who purchased the stamps, when they were mailed.

It may be unfair to wonder if Gary Schroeder is at the root of this whole affair. But the defeat of Bouma would certainly rebound to Schroeder’s benefit. It would open the door for him to run again in 2012 as “the only Republican who could hold the seat”. And certainly Schroeder has made it publicly clear that he is very troubled by Bouma’s Christian faith, which is the basic thrust of the postcard smear.

If Gary Schroeder is not involved in this dangerous, dirty campaign trick – he would be well advised to join other responsible persons in publicly denouncing it as beneath the dignity of Idaho’s electorate.

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