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EDITORIAL: Voters prevented major mistakes Tuesday

| November 12, 2023 1:00 AM

At 4:06 p.m. Monday, the eve of the local election, thousands of Kootenai County voters received a text message from the “official” Republican Party.

The text from Chairman Brent Regan of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee included a side by side graphic labeled Democrat vs. Republican. The Republican graphic was topped by KCRCC’s logo. The Democrats’ was a photo of a befuddled-looking, open-mouthed President Joe Biden.

The KCRCC endorsed a number of candidates in Tuesday’s local election. President Biden did not. But when you’re the KCRCC, why stop there with misrepresentation? 

At the bottom of the graphic, Regan disclosed that the Democrat chart reflects endorsements from a local bipartisan group calling itself Democrats And Republicans Together (DART). Maybe it’s a boneheaded oversight rather than an intentional misrepresentation, but the Democrat chart lists Coeur d’Alene City Council candidates Christie Wood and Dan Gookin; the KCRCC chart counters with Brian Winkler, Clark Albritton and Roger Garlock.

Missing from the Democrat chart is the name Dan English. What makes the omission most interesting is that Mr. English is the only actual Democrat of the three incumbents. Dan served multiple terms as Kootenai County Clerk back in the days when a Democrat could get elected to a partisan office. And yes, DART did endorse him.

On a broader scale, Tuesday’s election — which was nonpartisan, by the way, meaning political affiliation is not supposed to have any bearing on these community-first positions — was a microcosm of what’s going on nationally.

Coeur d’Alene, the most populous city in Kootenai County, rejected the KCRCC’s attempts to knock out the council incumbents, and none of the three races was even close. 

Similarly, the two candidates opposed by KCRCC both won their trustee races for Coeur d’Alene School District, though those races were much closer than the city council contests. Perhaps the tighter vote gap reflects the much larger geography of the district and its increasingly rural nature outside Cd’A.

KCRCC’s city council victories included all three Post Falls positions and the Hayden seat long inhabited by Roger Saterfiel. However, in a race decided by just 37 votes, Alan Davis — backed by local “establishment” Republicans and others— beat KCRCC’s Luke Sommer for Hayden mayor. KCRCC-supported Lakeland School District trustee candidates were victorious, lending credence to the rural vs. urban voting trend.

Did the KCRCC get its money's worth, considering its failure to capture a single Cd’A City Council or School Board seat? According to pre-election Political Action Committee campaign finance reports with the Idaho Secretary of State’s Office, KCRCC had spent more than five times as much on the local election as its more moderate adversaries combined, $70,320 — $13,153. You be the judge.

Any analysis of Tuesday’s results should include thoughts shared by winning Coeur d’Alene City Council candidates who noted that many of the people they talked to are outraged at the damage KCRCC-supported trustees have wrought on North Idaho College and the Community Library Network. In that sense, KCRCC’s key losses Tuesday represent big gains for the citizenry as a whole.