Monday, December 11, 2023

MY TURN: Conservatives' 'grassroots energy cannot be stopped'

by BJORN HANDEEN/Guest opinion
| May 5, 2023 1:00 AM

I was disappointed to see that I was named in Christa Hazel’s latest article regarding the political consulting firm McShane LLC and its involvement in Idaho politics. Much of the article was quite unfair to the conservative voters that provide the grassroots energy fueling the conservative movement in North Idaho. To call us “astroturf,” as if we and our values are artificial, is an unneeded insult that further tears down the culture of civility the Coeur d'Alene Press claims to support.

The success of candidates like Sen. Scott Herndon in the last election cycle depended primarily upon the dedication and passion of local conservative volunteers who enthusiastically worked to promote Idahoan values. For instance, beyond countless doors knocked, volunteers for Herndon were present at every polling location on Election Day, demonstrating a strong connection to the local community.

However, conservative grassroots volunteers now know that our campaigns work even better when advised by experienced professionals. In the Herndon example, Woodrow Johnston of McShane LLC helped conservatives develop an election strategy of using his opponent’s legislative record to draw a stark contrast between the two candidates based on their policy positions.

Hazel's article appears to be a strategic attempt to discredit conservative campaigns that have proven to be more successful than those she supports. We will not be dissuaded from multiplying our volunteer energy with the strategic campaign vision the McShane company, among others, can provide.

Furthermore, political finance reports illustrate that hiring out-of-state consultants is a common practice in Idaho politics. Jim Woodward spent the majority of his campaign budget with an out-of-state consulting firm in Utah. "Take Back Idaho PAC," a group that opposes the conservative direction of the KCRCC, spent most of its money with consulting firms based in Texas and Wyoming. Even Gov. Brad Little spent $1,460,317 with a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm.

While Ms. Hazel’s favored candidates continue to hire top political operatives from Washington D.C. and across the United States, we conservatives will not be dissuaded from enlisting our own experienced professionals. McShane LLC operates with the highest level of integrity and is known for its effective and fact-based approach to defining opponents. The firm has been recognized for its outstanding campaign strategy, receiving awards from the American Association of Political Consultants and Campaigns & Elections Magazine.

The success of conservatives in Idaho is a testament to the hard work of our grassroots supporters, the strategic guidance of experts like McShane LLC, and the unwavering commitment of our candidates to the people they represent. This will only continue, for our grassroots energy cannot be stopped with unfair insults or accusations. In fact, it only makes us stronger. As a committed conservative and Idaho GOP Region 1 chairman, I am proud to have worked with McShane LLC and its talented team, and will never apologize for seeking to advance our shared values and principles.

Bjorn Handeen is a Coeur d'Alene resident.

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