One Democratic blogger said that there is not a snowball's chance in hell that Idaho Senator Nicole Lefavour will beat multi-term incumbent Republican Mike Simpson for his seat in Congress. This article tells why that snowball may just survive. - Book Bear
New Congressional District Boundaries
This year Idaho completed redrawing its Congressional District boundaries. The Second Congressional District now includes ALL of Boise's strong Democratic legislative districts with their high voter turn out and huge Democratic percentages -- places where Nicole is well known and has been an active and visible member of the community for more than 20 years. The Second Congressional District also of course includes Pocatello's Democratic Core, Blaine County where all three legislators are Democrats, swing Twin Falls, Democratic Teton County and the core of Idaho Falls which elected Democrat Jerry Shively in 2006. Some consider this district stronger for Democrats than Idaho's first congressional district was when Walt Minnick was elected to U.S. Congress in 2008.
Mike Simpson simply has never faced a democratic opponent who is both well funded and well organized. He has grown comfortable without a challenger for so many years and has spent much of his time out of state, his responses to constituent letters growing less and less personal. We are in uncharted waters, given the new congressional district boundaries and the mood of those in the middle, who knows what is possible this year.
Few people realize the level of name recognition and support Nicole has in Eastern Idaho where her work leading efforts to stop Tom Luna's efforts to replace teachers with lap tops made her a familiar face and leader for thousands of teachers and parents. Additionally her work on mental health and substance abuse issues, working to protect services essential to people with disabilities and her years of human rights work has created a dedicated base of support in nearly every community across southern Idaho. Eastern Idaho is also experiencing some surprising change as moderate republicans and democrats organize themselves. In the May primary, moderate members took back the Idaho Falls Republican central committee removing the extreme factions who had been driving divisive politics in recent years. The middle is open to change and tired of seeing so little of Mike Simpson except in election season.
The Enthusiasm Factor
This race is somewhat unusual in that the level of name recognition and voters' familiarity with Nicole's work these past 8 years in the legislature. It has made it possible for the campaign to quickly build a volunteer field structure across the state, combined with strong field staff the campaign has something few campaigns are lucky enough to have: people on the ground who will speak with genuine enthusiasm about a candidate, her work and dedication to Idaho communities as a legislator and person. No amount of money or TV advertising Congressman Simpson can buy is as powerful as the words of real supporters speaking to friends, neighbors and co-workers in grocery stores and over backyard fences in every community across South, East and Central Idaho.
Hard Work & Smart Campaigning
Larry LaRocco called Nicole one of the most impressive political minds in the sate. Since 2004 when she won her first highly contested three way legislative primary race with a huge 53% of the vote, she's been known as a tireless campaigner and excellent strategist. After years of work as staff on campaigns and in Idaho politics and Nicole has an innovative campaign strategy that is already on the ground and hard at work talking to targeted voters across the state.
Record Setting Fundraising
Nicole is a very good fundraiser. She has a dedicated base of support from which she has raised almost $160,000 so far. This is more than any democratic challenger to Mike Simpson raised throughout their entire campaigns. Winning the race depends on the continued generosity of many. Likely $400,000 of the campaign's goal will have to be raised by Nicole directly from her donors, while additional funds will come through independent expenditures and similar assistance.
A Surprising Blessing
For those who ask, can a gay person win, especially in eastern Idaho? Remember LDS families have gay kids too. While some may be skeptical that this issue is not central to voting behavior, poll after poll shows that a VAST majority of Americans and even very specifically Idahoans support basic job protections and other measures to ensure gay people live safely in communities across the state. While there may remain dwindling tension over the issue of marriage, animosity toward gay people generally is quickly vanishing. From Idaho's Latino/Hispanic community to people with disabilities and women, Nicole's human rights work has earned her the respect and dedication of many who see her as understanding issues of discrimination and offering better representation than elected officials who have never experienced discrimination.
LET'S MAKE HISTORY
Idaho has few opportunities to win a congressional seat. This year we do. Media cost in this congressional district are lower than in most states, meaning campaign dollars go farther here, making the race far more attainable for Senator LeFavour to win. Join the campaign today as a donor or volunteer. Let's make some history this summer and fall and send Nicole to Washington as our next Congresswoman.
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