If Idaho’s Republican Party was a dog, you’d put it down. If it was a horse, it’d be heading for the glue factory. If it was a plane, you wouldn’t get on board, not with the engine leaking oil and the pilot doing vodka shots in the cockpit.
The disintegration of the party began six years ago when the hard right sacked Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s handpicked party chairman. It continued in 2012 when voters decisively overturned State Superintendent Tom Luna’s education reforms.
Earlier this year, the state’s dominant party made Idaho a national punch line by holding a gubernatorial debate worthy of a Saturday Night Live skit.
In May, the GOP nominated three candidates for statewide office whose tenures have been immersed in scandal: Otter; former House Speaker Lawerence “Boss” Denney, a candidate for secretary of state; and Treasurer Ron Crane.
Crane spent $8,000 of your money filling his gas tank because he thought taxpayers should pay for his work commute; lost $19 million in local government funds on mortgage-backed securities; and, funded by taxpayer dollars, rolled through Manhattan with legislators in stretch limos.
Denney, whose list of misdeeds is long, notably attempted to circumvent the state constitution by firing his redistricting commissioner and blocked good government bills, including one that would have ended a pension-spiking boondoggle he stands to benefit from with a victory in the fall.
Otter’s Transportation Department director received a $750,000 settlement after she was wrongfully fired; his Tax Commission chairman resigned after a near mutiny by auditors com- plaining about special favors for the rich and connected; and his former Administration Department director steered a lucrative state contract to a favored company.
Folks still chuckling at the antics of Harley “turd in a punchbowl” Brown and wolf killer Walt Bayes, whose participation in the gubernatorial debate was demanded by Otter, found even more to laugh at in a GOP Convention dominated by bickering, insane platform proposals and, ultimately, inaction.
Is Barry Peterson chairman? The GOP’s lawyer says “No.” Peterson’s lawyer says “Yes.” And so, while the factions set up their own meetings to resolve the uncertainty, Peterson changed the locks at GOP headquarters and lords over a staff of one.
While the state’s right and far right argue the irrelevant, Idaho continues to morph into the Mississippi of the West, dead last in per-pupil spending and near the bottom in wages.
Clearly, it’s time for voters to wake up. Not every Idaho Republican does a poor job. Conversely, not every Idaho Republican does a good job. Idahoans no longer have the luxury of straight-ticket voting, not if they want their children to attend good schools and earn a living wage when they graduate.
Think of the Idaho Republican Party as candy and the Idaho Democratic Party as broccoli. It gives a majority of Idahoans pleasure to vote Republican, to oppose the party of Obama and Clinton — to eat a steady diet of Gob- stoppers, Junior Mints and Tootsie Rolls.
It’s time to look in the mirror. Look and see — that this candy diet has rotted your teeth, pocked your skin and left you flabby and listless.
In November, Idahoans best mix in a little broccoli. It may not taste very good, but they’ll feel better and be healthier in the long run.