Sunday, September 03, 2006

I sure hope so

Randy Stapilus:
Visits by Vice President Dick Cheney and House Speaker Dennis Hastert to pump up Sali’s candidacy - not just to raise money, which would be the norm, but to call for Republican unity. Unity was the text and the subtext.
That’s what didn’t happen in the races Leroy and Mansfield cite as past examples of the party coming together after a contested primary, in 2000 after C.L. “Butch” Otter won a contested Republican primary, or after Helen Chenoweth did it in 1994. In those races, the party did coalesce around the winner, and it was no big deal. It was simply assumed, and no national leaders or op-eds seemed to be needed to press the point home.

Which raises the question: Are these Republican leaders seeing something going on out there that hasn’t surfaced yet?
Read the whole thing for the signals that are perking up Stapilus' intra-party strife antenna. As someone who's followed this race since before the primary, I think Stapilus is pretty on the mark. This fear of a fractured Republican party has been permeating Idaho political common wisdom for quite some time now. In a state where one party has such unidirectional control, however, I think this is bound to happen. Even if Idaho is majority Republican, as those ranks grow there are bound to be divisions.

This is a year where the Idaho Republican party will have to do some soul-searching, and its members will be forced to do the same. I can only imagine that with a new face on Idaho Democrats and Western Democrats in general, some of those soul-searching Republicans will find their goals and values better aligned with their state Democratic party's than with what their unchecked Republican party has become. With the assumption of an electorate behind everything they do, the Idaho Republicans (a bit like Joe Lieberman) have lost the ability to take their voters for granted.

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