Dems: GOP's misleading labeling hurt party
By JAY PATRICK
Voters buying Republican-driven stereotypes helped undo Idaho’s Democratic candidates, according to the party director and its candidate for governor.
“In 2010, the Democratic brand isn’t doing so good,” said Keith Allred, an Independent who sought the governorship under the Democratic banner, at the party’s gathering at the Owyhee Plaza Hotel in downtown Boise Tuesday evening. “It’s just been a challenge to get through the general assumptions.”
The Republican money machine, including the National Republican Governor’s Association — which spent $500,000 on anti-Allred television ads and mailers — did well tagging him a boilerplate tax-and-spend liberal, Allred indicated.
Asked in an interview if he erred in aligning with Democrats, Allred said he would have had no chance on his own.
“For better or worse, in our system it’s just impossible to make a go of it as an Independent.”
Party Director Jim Hansen also talked of Republicans’ effectively painting Dems in broad strokes, perhaps referring to efforts to stick Walt Minnick, whose record reflects an independent streak, with the poisonous liberal label and linking him to the polarizing speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi.
“The Republicans spent a huge amount of resources defining what a Democrat is in the public mind,” he said.
Republicans handily won seven major offices: governor, superintendent of schools, controller, secretary of state, a U.S. Senate seat and two posts in the U.S. House of Representatives. The statehouse moved further right with GOP pickups.
On the Democratic Party’s future prospects in the most Republican of states, Hansen said, “We have a lot of really, really good people. They don’t believe in the way that they’re defined … the more people know their community leaders as individuals, not as some sort of artificial label, the more people Democrats, or Independents supported by Democrats, or moderate Republicans supported by Democrats, will be elected.”
Were the across-the-board trouncings worse than he expected?
“I think it’s a reflection of what was in play,” Hansen said.
In closing words to the crowd late Tuesday, Allred again spoke of combating the GOP-imposed “Democratic label.”
“We all knew at the beginning of this that it would be a tough challenge to get beyond that.”
He spoke of his commitment to overcoming political divides by following the Founding Fathers’ direction to support policy that attracts broad and diverse support; but the widespread Republican stereotype campaign largely drowned out his voice.
“Wherever we had a chance to really get that message out, and talked face to face with voters, that message resonated and it didn’t matter if they were Republican or Democrat or Independent, but we live in a highly partisan age.”