Batt: Attempts to 'sully' redistricting will threaten Idaho GOP dominance

If Republican leaders try to hijack the redistricting process, they run the risk of compromising years of "remarkable success" at the polls.

That's the assessment from one of the architects of the GOP's success — Phil Batt, a former governor, lieutenant governor, legislator and state Republican chairman. Batt submitted a guest opinion today, criticizing House Speaker Lawerence Denney and GOP Chairman Norm Semanko for trying to fire redistricting commissioners Dolores Crow and Randy Hansen.

Writes Batt: "Our party leaders want to sully the reapportionment process for more political gain. I guess they want 100 percent Republicans of their own variety (Dolores and I probably don’t qualify).

"But I predict that Republican dominance in Idaho will decline rather than grow if we say neutrality has no place in reapportionment, and that the commission must do it our way or else."

This guest opinion will run in Thursday's Statesman. But given the timeliness of the issue, and Batt's stature within the Republican Party, this one was worth getting out sooner than later.

Here, in full, is Batt's guest opinion:

I entered the Idaho Legislature in 1965. It was a historic session — our first sales tax, complete revision of our judicial system and several other unique actions.

But the toughest nut of all to crack was in redrawing the lines of our legislative districts. The “Dirksen Amendment” requiring equal population of inhabitants in each of our state Senate districts had just taken effect.

Prior to reapportionment, Clark County, with a population of 500, had one state senator, as did Ada County with 40,000 plus. Radical change had to take place.

The 1965 session did its work, then came back in several special sessions to redraw the legislative lines. It was brutal work, with over half the 44 sitting state senators facing extinction. There was a lot of fighting, some remarkable statesmanship and some outrageous gerrymandering before that reapportionment was accomplished.

We are required to reapportion every 10 years and two more of these exercises also were riddled by extreme partisanship and gerrymandering.

The voters of Idaho decided they’d had enough. In 1994, they took this chore from the sitting legislators and created a bipartisan commission designated to do their work without regard to incumbency or political affiliation.

This year the process has not gone well. The first panel deadlocked over political considerations and gave up.
A new panel was appointed. The members declared that they would do the job strictly by the numbers and not for political expediency. Dolores Crow in particular, in word and action, demonstrated her determination to keep politics out of it. This commission voted unanimously, 6-0, for a plan that meets numerical equity but raises the ire of some politicians who are adversely affected.

Republican leaders announced that they are firing Commissioners Dolores Crow and Randy Hansen and replacing them with hard-line party loyalists. This may or may not be accepted. The leaders are branding Ms. Crow as a Republican in Name Only.

Labeling Dolores Crow as a RINO is ridiculous. She has been a steel-tough Republican and is just trying to do what she was appointed to do — to produce a plan based on facts and not on politics.

I took the reins of the Idaho Republican Party in 1991 when the Democrats were often defeating us at the polls. My hearty group of allies and I toured the state, holding regional meetings, organizing every county and selecting outstanding candidates for almost every political office.

The result was remarkable success. Since that time we’ve gained all the major offices. Our legislative majority has ranged from 70 to 85 percent.

Now our party leaders want to sully the reapportionment process for more political gain. I guess they want 100 percent Republicans of their own variety (Dolores and I probably don’t qualify).

But I predict that Republican dominance in Idaho will decline rather than grow if we say neutrality has no place in reapportionment, and that the commission must do it our way or else.

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Governor Batt...

Governor Batt, thank you for having the courage to stand up to the ethically-challenged leadership of the Idaho Republican caucus. You are absolutely correct to challenge the ridiculous actions taken by Speaker Denney and Chairman Semanko. When our government representatives begin to think that state government is their own little playground, it's time to remind them of what American values are truly about - democracy, freedom, and fairness for all.

With Respects, Gov. Batt doesn't understand the mindset.

Contemporary Republicans have the TRUTH and the LIGHT and with all True Believers, they have a moral obligation to imposed the TRUTH on the infidels. For those blinded the light of the TRUTH the ends justify the means because the end is after all, the TRUTH. In any case, thank you Governor Batt for speaking out.

U ... R...an angry soul

Did you get dropped on your HEAD as a child?

Some people

Some people just get really frustrated at the constant barrage of "leadership" stupidity. And it's hard to believe that you actually took the time to post your inane comment.

The problem is that this permeates everything around here!

We have a lot og chowderheads, noob or not who are extremely bored and noisy.

Grow some manners kids.

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Websites: Everytime you get it the way you're comfortable with somebody gives a monkey a rock, bottle and a dollar.

Idaho voters...

Idaho voters, Governor Batt is gently reminding us all that Idaho voters have the power and duty to help correct the actions of Speaker Denney and Chairman Semanko. We need to vote for people that are willing to play fair, be ethical, and look out for all of Idaho's citizens. Please remember Governor Batt's statement and words when you vote later this year. Don't just vote (R) or (D). As a voter, I would rather vote for an ethical candidate from an opposing party than a corrupt candidate from my own party. Let's send some honest representatives to the Capitol.

Good Call Phil

Nice to see that not all the sensible Idaho Republican have not folded their tents. These power hunger fools running the Republican Party right now need to be shown for what they are...stupid narrow minded politicians. Idaho Republicans are better than the recent behavior or Semanko and Denny and must speak out in defense of honesty, goodwill and transparency; especially when it comes to redistricting; a key element by which the rank and file Idahoan obtain's their representation.

Enjoy the Ride...there is no return ticket.

Darn

I was hoping no one would say anything. I would prefer the GOP idiots to keep sullying away...

I miss Gov. Batt

Where have the thinking Republicans like Gov. Batt gone?

thinking Repiblicans?

extinct

Bravo

Gov Phil. I hope the leadership is listening and these two are reinstated and the committee report accepted as written.

Time to knock off the bull.

Thank you Gov Batt!

Idaho's last respectable Governor. Good to see you weight in sir.

Governor Otter?

Where is the current governor on this?

I would expect a similar public statement from Gov. Otter and even something from the whole House such a vote of "NO CONFIDENCE" in the Speaker for such shenanigans.

This. The delay in Rep Hart's committee action. Caucus leadership vote....

Batt is correct- independents and middle of the road voters are switching teams.

Otter's comments about Dolores Crow

As reported by Dan Popkey, Governor Otter stated today "I thought she did a good job." Popkey provides some pretty interesting insight.

Otter's comments about Dolores Crow

As reported by Dan Popkey, Governor Otter stated today "I thought she did a good job." Popkey provides some pretty interesting insight.

I see

thanks. I see that now plus his opting of effectively saying 'that's not my department'.

Leadership ought to be the job of any governor. Another strike against the R team IMO.

NO

The Governor was right not to get involved- this is a Legislative issue, not a Executive Branch issue. The Governor, regardless of who it is, is excluded from the process of picking a Redistricting Commission. Semanko and Denney have played this badly, and got told that in spades by the Supremes.

One party state

When you appear to be able to do anything to anyone for any reason and people still vote for you no matter what, this is what you get. It is the people of Idaho that have created politicians who think of themselves as above the law. You can hardly blame GOP legislators for acting as if they are above the law when voters clearly do not care. I'd like to see the people of Idaho vote against these extremists, but the chances of that happening are nil. Charles Manson could run for office in most counties in this state and if he had an (R) next to his name he would be elected hands down.

IdahoBert

...well, not quite.
but I see your point. I have always felt like Phil said. I would hope that the people do start electing more dem's in to balance this out a bit. maybe.
Don't expect much out of Butch tho... he's already as good as he's ever going to be.
and I am a life long republican, but today's politicians, state and federal, need replaced.

It's All Politics

Of course Gov. Batt is right, but reapportionment is about as bare knuckled as it gets. Reapportionment in the early 90's was the last legislatively controlled process. It was a mess. The compromise came with the Senate Deomcrats clawing at each other and serving up a few senators who would certainly lose. Those senators actually didn't lose, but there were drastic losses by the Dems in 1994. The party was openly divided between labor and the pro-environment blocs and the abyss opened. The GOP is heading right down this road.

Phil Batt has guts

He brought farmers under the Workers Compensation Law because it was the right thing to do but it cost him lifetime friends.

I imagine he and many other republicans will be voting "D" next November in hopes of salvaging their party.

Batt...

would be labeled a RINO, at the least, and a flaming Liberal, at worst, by today's brand of Republican.

Denney-Semanko

"Blood will have blood!" As was said long ago as power struggled for power in the kingdom of the British kings.

As Denney's kingdom is challenged by 4 intruders, he's fearful that the new kingdom, which has been enlarged by 4 other districts and seat holders and includes Denney's to make 5 seat holders vying for a seat in the new district, will be more of a challenge than his angered responses can handle. If the people saw him in his enraged state spewing nasties around like a spoiled brat, would they vote for him? Or Semanko?
To be continued. Only time will tell!

Denney-Semanko

"Blood will have blood!" As was said long ago as power struggled for power in the kingdom of the British kings.

As Denney's kingdom is challenged by 4 intruders, he's fearful that the new kingdom, which has been enlarged by 4 other districts and seat holders and includes Denney's to make 5 seat holders vying for a seat in the new district, will be more of a challenge than his angered responses can handle. If the people saw him in his enraged state spewing nasties around like a spoiled brat, would they vote for him? Or Semanko?
To be continued. Only time will tell!

On the money, Phil

Let's hope these bozos will stop trying to alienate their base and listen to your sage advice.

our governor

Seems he should have a moral obligation to speak up for Right vs. wrong. That sense of obligation seems to be lacking in todays Republicans. Norquist wants pledges to his perspective, Semanko wanted pledges to the party. I hope we rediscover our collective integrity and moral compass. I bet Denney's constituents won't lift a finger to recall him. That's sad.

I will probably get

I will probably get crucified for this sometime in the future but Batt is right. Denney and Semank are being stupid. Democrats having a couple more seats after this redraw would not change a darn thing. And it is more likely the GOP holds the same edge in the Senate and gains a couple seats in the House due to the redraw and Obama being on the top of the ticket. I should start a movement to remove Semanko.

He's already surrendered his party chair, helpful?

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Websites: Everytime you get it the way you're comfortable with somebody gives a monkey a rock, bottle and a dollar.