Sisyphus: McJoan Misses the Mark on 1st Congressional District

I’ve been a huge fan of Idaho native Joan McCarter (McJoan), front pager for Daily Kos, ever since I first became acquainted with her from blurking the blogs. And I acted like a star struck teenager when she brought Kos to Idaho for a Democratic banquet. But her write up on the Labrador upset is wide of the mark. writes 43rdStateBlues blogger Sisyphus.

According to McJoan:

Unfortunately for the incumbent, Dem Walt Minnick, because his best chance of holding on to his seat was the mistake-prone Ward, who was unlikely to generate the kind of enthusiasm Labrador can garner. The best a Dem can hope for in this state is low Republican turnout.

McJoan had a point. For example TPM labels Vaughn Ward the worst candidate ever.

McJoan wrote:

Despite Palin’s endorsement of Ward, Labrador was the teabaggers’ choice, as is obvious given his quotes, above. Ward’s series of missteps–lifting whole sections of other Republicans’ talking points for his Web site, falsely claiming endorsements from Idaho officeholders, plagiarizing from Obama–sealed his fate.

However, Sisyphus offers a different analysis:

On the contrary, Labrador is (Bill) Sali’s heir apparent. Minnick won this seat in a district that gave McCain 61% of the vote. Minnick’s opponent, Bill Sali, was a Republican flame thrower who became a congressman in a similarly divided primary after being funded by a right wing PAC, Club for Growth. Sali was the informal head of the ideological wing of the Idaho Republican party which constantly clamors for purity purges to cleanse it of notions they see as an anathema to conservatism.

An analysis of party history followed:

In 2007, Sali helped lead a fight to defeat the Executive Director of the party, Kirk Sullivan, a big business lobbyist and a moderate. The moderates are largely composed of business types more concerned about government regulation than abortion. … A legislator that helped Sali in that fight was none other than Raul Labrador.

As a result of that schism, Sali ended up lonely and alone when running for re-election in 2008. His sugar daddy, Club for Growth, had other fish to fry. Big business Republicans like Dirk Kempthorne, Phil Batt and Governor Butch Otter were noticeably absent from Sali’s campaign trail. And the big money, usually relied on by Republicans to fund their campaigns, actually started showing up on Minnick’s campaign finance disclosure forms, probably as a result of Sali’s xenophobic immigration legislation he was threatening. With the help of this money, Minnick was able to cobble together a sufficient coalition of disaffected moderate Republicans and eager enthused Democrats to squeak out a victory in a heavily Republican district.

Sisyphus calls yesterday’s Republican primary yesterday a continuation, if not a deepening, of the Republican rift:

Fourteen months prior to the primary, Vaughn Ward was plucked from DC by Dirk Kempthorne, anointed by the Republican establishment such as Phil Batt, and funded by Idaho big business Republicans.

Thus, isn’t it better for Minnick to try to defeat this extremist, maverick than a candidate who had the full backing of the RNC?

Sisyphus’s blog

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