My assignment Tuesday night was to write the story on how the election outcome would affect Idaho. That required me to prepare for the possible reelection of President Obama, the election of Mitt Romney and the possibility we wouldn’t know by deadline.
I had to talk to a lot of people about a lot of subjects and about what actions a president might take and how the federal government affects Idaho. All of the Republicans I interviewed said the major impact of Romney’s election would be his close ties to Idaho and to Idahoans who could play a major role in his administration.
“There is no area where Idaho won’t have a seat at the table,” one prominent Republican said, summing up the views of many.
So sadden Republicans at the Riverside Hotel late Tuesday said that Idaho doesn’t have a seat at any of the tables of executive power. But they all looked at it from the view of their power base in Idaho.
Two Idahoans have very large seats at the table of executive power after Tuesday. Jim Messina, who grew up in Boise and graduated from Boise High School led Obama’s reelection campaign that observers said used a mix of behavioral science and technology to identify and get out to vote a new crop of voters to the coalition.
He has now kept his election victory record intact since he ran a campaign for former Missoula Mayor Dan Kemmis in 1993. The sky seems to be the limit for his future.
Vice President Joe Biden’s chief of staff Bruce Reed grew up in Coeur D’ Alene, the son of environmental attorney Scott Reed and former Democratic Senator Mary Lou Reed. He was credited by former President Bill Clinton as co-author of his powerful convention speech that energized Democratic activists.
Then there is Tom Tidwell, who attended Capital High and now heads the Forest Service and Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, who used to be the superintendent of Craters of the Moon National Monument near Arco. And how about National Education Association Executive Director John Stocks, a former Idaho state senator, whose group helped fund the campaign to defeat Propositions 1,2, and 3?
Don’t forget, Republican Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch each expanded their clout in the Senate.
Crapo likely moves up to the number three GOP spot on the finance committee that among other roles, writes tax policy. Risch does the same on the Foreign Relations Committee, a remarkable rise for a first term senator.
Rep. Mike Simpson keeps his post as subcommittee chairman of the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees Interior, the Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency. He remains close to House Speaker John Boehner and in an ideal place to protect Idaho’s interests as Congress continues deep cuts to programs.
Finally, Republican Rep. Raul Labrador told Republican leaders two years ago that they needed to change the way they approached the growing Hispanic community or it would cost them. He now looks like a sage and offers the chance to become one of the major Hispanic voices of the Republican Party at a time when they know they need them.