Democrat Steve Berch of Boise, who is making his second run for the House after he raised loads of dough in 2010 but got whipped in a heavily Republican district.
I offer this unsolicited advice not to embarrass Berch, who has considerable talent and now is in a far more favorable district.
Rather, I hope my thoughts will be helpful to him and dozens of candidates scrambling for attention in a post-redistricting election that promises turnover of one-third or more.
Berch has promise, starting with an irrepressibility that's essential for an Idaho Democrat to overcome the odds.
But in Berch's case his tenacity is paired with insensitivity to the time constraints of others. Berch, a first-time candidate in 2010, behaved as if his race was the most important in Idaho. In fact, he was always a long shot.
I came to cringe at Berch's calls because he's a bloke who loves to hear himself talk. He's not talking nonsense, he just has an out-sized idea about how much time I have to devote to his race.
The best candidates, I've found, are those who arrive at the doorstep and do more listening than talking.
Tuesday night, I found myself growling at a another call from Berch, who phoned a half-hour before the first-ever Idaho Republican presidential caucus, which drew more than 8,000 voters to the Taco Bell Arena.
I was kind of busy, so the call went to my voicemail. When I heard his message I couldn't help but wonder whether Berch is unfamiliar with the Idaho political calendar. Mine was blocked out: 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 6, GOP presidential caucus. I arrived at 4 and left at 10:30.
Berch called to confirm that I'd received an email he sent at 9:35 p.m. Monday. I had, and Berch, a former Hewlett Packard mucky-muck, had to know that because he couldn't have received a non-delivery message. My email address hasn't changed since 2010, when Berch and I corresponded regularly.
His email included a news release that he'd planned to send earlier Monday, when he filed for a House seat. "I had hoped to issue the following (and attached) press release simultaneously, but was unfortunately delayed in doing so," wrote Berch. "I hope you will consider this additional information worthy of being mentioned in your publication or on your website."
Knowing Berch, I suspect he just wanted to talk. His voicemail also included this, "Just wanted to invite you to contact me at any time if you're interested in doing so, and, hopefully, you won't mind if I called you every now and again if I had something that I thought might be newsworthy."
No, I don't mind talking, Steve, but couldn't you have picked a better time?
Jawboning reporters is by no means disqualifying. This year, Berch has a real chance, unlike when he was in District 14 in 2010, which covers northwest Ada County, including Eagle and Star.
In 2010, Berch raised an eye-popping $53,000, compared to Republican Reed DeMourdant's $28,000. But Berch managed just 32 percent of the vote. He also did the necessary spade work, knocking on thousands of doors, but the district is just too solidly Republican for a Democrat to have a fighting chance.
Thanks to redistricting, Berch now has a winnable race for an open seat in West Boise's District 15. Much of the district was represented in the last decade by two leading moderate Republicans, Sen. John Andreason and Rep. Max Black. Andreason and Black now live in District 16, opening the door for Democrats. Former U.S. Attorney Betty Richardson is a good prospect for an open Senate seat in 15, facing another hard worker, Republican Fred Martin.
Berch may wish to take a lesson from Martin, who shares his passion for campaigning. Martin has been everywhere in recent weeks, dropping off press releases at my office and the Statehouse, working the room when Mitt Romney's son was in Meridian, hauling his huge plywood sign to Tuesday's caucus and parking it in a pickup just outside the arena.
Now, as Mr. Berch requested, here is the full text of the news release we overlooked Monday night and Tuesday:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Steve Berch files to run for House Seat 15B
Boise, Idaho – March 5, 2012. Local businessman Steve Berch has filed to run as the Idaho Democratic Party candidate for House Seat 15B. This rare open seat offers voters an opportunity to bring a fresh perspective and balance to a state legislature that struggles to solve even the most basic problems facing its citizens. Voters in West Boise feel left behind and let down by the people they trusted as the legislature becomes increasingly out of touch, more extreme, and hostile to differing points of view.
Steve Berch is very familiar with District 15. He has lived in the district for over 31 years. As vice-president of the West Valley Neighborhood Association, he led the effort to prevent state and local government from effectively rerouting Highway 55 down Five Mile Road – which runs through the center of the district. His efforts protected the property values of thousands of homeowners and preserved the pleasant residential nature of its communities.
Many voters in District 15 may have met Steve Berch at their door when he ran for the legislature two years ago in what was then part of District 14. Almost 50% of the new District 15 comes from the old District 14.
Former and current Hewlett Packard employees in West Boise may know Steve Berch from his nearly 30 year career at the company. Others may know him as president of his homeowners association, where he has worked with his fellow neighbors to preserve property values during these challenging economic times.
Said Berch, “I look forward to meeting with the citizens of District 15 – Republicans, Independents and Democrats alike – to discuss the issues important to all, including restoring the prosperity that has been lost in West Boise and making wise investments in education for our children and their future. ”
About Steve Berch:
Steve Berch is running for House Seat 15B. He has lived in District 15 for over 31 years, starting when he moved to Idaho in 1981 to work for the Hewlett Packard Company. He was the strategic business planner for three HP divisions, managed a $75 million dollar business and launched new marketing initiatives. He owns a consulting company that advises local small businesses on becoming more competitive and efficient, along with working as a contract employee for larger companies. He and his wife Leslie have been married for 29 years and have a daughter, Katie, who attends Centennial High School.
Steve Berch (Candidate): 890-9339