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I am very pleased to be back on DailyKos.  Since I was last here I have been fighting to represent the forgotten working families of Idaho.  

I have campaigned non-stop since April 2007.          

My "Working for the Senate" campaign continues to grab Idaho voters and media. Tomorrow will be my 27th job and I will work side by side with members of Local 296 Plumbers and Pipefitters Union in Boise at a dairy processing plant in Jerome.  Next week, I will work with roofers in Boise.

As we head down the home stretch with 119 days remaining a clear path to victory is emerging.  

Don’t forget:  this is Idaho.  

To date, my strongest opponent has not been the GOP Lt. Gov. Jim Risch (who actually seems to be in hiding). My true opponent has been conventional wisdom about Idaho.

Idaho has changed dramatically since the nation was riveted on a small band of Aryan Nation radicals. We kicked them out years ago. The Idaho I know is made of hard working, middle income families who work longer and harder for less—families who want good schools, economic opportunity, affordable, quality health care, access to our public lands, end to war in Iraq, congressional harmony and good government.  That’s not too complicated but it’s a far cry from the right wing orthodoxy dished out by the Idaho legislature and current political leadership.  

Idaho is ready for change because most of our citizens in this great state have been forgotten.

We will have a huge voter turnout on Election Day. In Idaho that means independent voters will come off the sidelines to vote for a change.  

It may sound trite, but it’s absolutely true: This is the most important election of my lifetime. Yours?

But this campaign is a fight, a bruiser. Pundits are still trying to bloody my nose. Last week a blogger who called my race a "safe GOP seat" touted George Bush’s 2004 results as part of his proof.  His Idaho is not my Idaho.  2004 is ancient history.  So is $2.00 per gallon gas.  My poll shows George Bush has plummeted in popularity to a 54% disapproval rating.  As McJoan noted last week, this signifies the official ranking of Bush as the worst president ever because of this low ranking in Idaho.

Today’s Idaho is not yesterday’s Idaho. Conventional wisdom is based on yesterday’s results, not today’s.

Since 2005, fewer and fewer people self identify themselves as Republicans, according to surveys by Boise State University.

Boise’s Democratic mayor, David Bieter, was elected in November with 64% of the vote in the state’s largest city.  Democrats in Idaho have picked up 14 seats in the state legislature since 2002.  The Democratic caucuses had four times the number of attendees as 2004.  Four times!  The GOP infrastructure in Idaho is in shambles as right wingers target moderates—aka RINOs—and the GOP brand is battered.

I wake up every day with a smile on my face and conduct the most aggressive grassroots campaign in America.  Idahoans tell me everyday they want change:

They want a Congress that works.

They want quality affordable health care because too many are rolling the dice and going without it.

They want to end this $3 trillion war.

They want nation building right here in America.

They want their privacy protected.

They want an energy plan that’s transparent and realistic and focused on renewable and alternative energy resources.

They want economic opportunities for themselves and their children.

They want a strong education system and less outsourcing of jobs.

It’s pretty simple.  It’s not ideological.  It’s straightforward and pragmatic.  

While we are up against a wealthy candidate who will try to buy his way into the U.S. Senate, people are voting against him with their dollars. Each fundraising quarter has been better than the last.  The quarter ending June 30th is no exception. On-line alone we have raised almost $170,000.

Jim Risch is the current lieutenant governor and a former unelected, temporary governor. As the GOP power elite’s anointed successor to Larry Craig, he has incumbent status. But his job approval rating for those two positions is dismal.

Only 44% of Idahoans had a favorable view of him. On the rare occasion that he emerges from his bunker and deigns to speak to Idahoans, he boasts about his seven-month stint as an unelected governor in 2006. Well, only 42% of Idahoans thought he did that job well. A full third of Idahoans either don’t know him or don’t have an opinion of him—Ex-Governor Who?

He is unknown and disliked.  When my pollster, Celinda Lake, simulated a campaign between us Risch drops to 37% and I move to 40%.  This race is wide open.

We need to focus on the ballot for this race.  There are five candidates.  The Wall Street Journal has profiled one of the independent candidates who will siphon votes from Risch. Two others are running who will not siphon votes from me because of their hard right stances.

I believe in self-fulfilling prophecies.  If those with front row seats say this race can’t be won then the game is over.  If folks say this race can be won then we are in the game.  Jim Risch and the fractured Idaho GOP hope Democrats will sit this one out, buy off on out-dated conventional wisdom and "call" this race before November.  Don’t do it.

Originally posted to Larry LaRocco on Wed Jul 09, 2008 at 11:58 AM PDT.

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