Idaho Democrats prepare for general election and beyond

The Idaho Democratic Party’s 2022 platform committee outlines their work to convention delegates. (Logan Finney/Idaho Reports)

by Logan Finney, Idaho Reports

The Idaho Democratic Party held their annual convention July 17-18 in downtown Boise. County delegates from across the state debated more than 20 resolutions and adopted a platform for the year, as candidates for office requested more tangible support from the party.

The adopted resolutions included stances officially opposing the proposed constitutional amendment that would allow lawmakers to call themselves into session, and endorsing Reclaim Idaho’s education funding ballot initiative, dubbed the Quality Education Act.

The constitutional amendment will appear on the November general election ballot. The Secretary of State’s office will announce later this summer whether Reclaim Idaho collected enough signatures to place their initiative on the ballot.

One resolution that was not adopted would have directed the state party to compile campaign resources in a written format for new candidates. “This would encourage candidates who may be overwhelmed and lost at the prospect of running as a Democrat in Idaho,” read the draft, written by District 22 House candidate Natalie McLachlan.

A number of legislative candidates, McLachlan included, took to the microphone at the convention to express their desire for more material support offered to new candidates who decide to run for office but haven’t been involved with party politics in the past.

“As a candidate, I’m seeing there’s a lot of institutional knowledge that’s being transferred verbally or through mentoring, and I want to make sure that information outlives any individual,” McLachlan told Idaho Reports in a Thursday interview. “Not continuing to start from scratch when there’s turnover.”

McLaughlin told Idaho Reports that her intention in authoring the resolution was to support the state party’s training and recruitment efforts, not to criticize the staff.

“We’re organizing,” McLaughlin said. “We’re strategizing and we’re not going anywhere.”

She argued that a public-facing stance on resources for new candidates would have helped reassure Idahoans who haven’t interacted with the party yet or moved to the state recently and are uncertain about taking the leap to run for office.

“If you don’t know what you don’t know, it’s hard to know what to ask for,” U.S. Senate candidate David Roth told Idaho Reports at the convention.

Other delegates said they believe that infrastructure building is an internal party matter, and didn’t belong in an outward-facing policy like a convention resolution.

“The whole point of a political party is to recruit and train candidates,” Roth said. “If the Democratic convention isn’t the forum to talk about how to improve the party, what is?”

The party also adopted a one-page platform document outlining their general values.

In contrast, the Idaho Republican Party platform is a 14-page document with a range of policy positions that is amended from convention to convention. This year’s Republican convention is scheduled to take place July 14-16 in Twin Falls.

Rep. Colin Nash of Boise chaired the Democrats’ platform committee. He joined the Idaho Reports podcast this week to discuss the newly adopted platform and why it’s so short, as well as the health of the state party.

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