New Strategy For Idaho Political Parties Part Of National Trend

Aug 22, 2016

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Following news that the Idaho Republican Party had opened three field offices in traditional Democratic strongholds like Blaine County and that the GOP planned to open more, Democrats pointed out they'd also sent out operatives. Dean Ferguson with Idaho’s Democratic Party says state Democratic leaders started sending out field organizers in February and now have seven assigned in key legislative districts. Ferguson says this is a new strategy for Idaho Democrats.

“What’s different this year from last year or the year before is that the Idaho Democratic Party is becoming stronger,” Ferguson says. “We’re getting more people involved.”

The same can be said about the Idaho Republican Party. Jaclyn Kettler says this fits into a national trend. Kettler teaches political science at Boise State University.

“We’ve seen over the last decade state political parties become much more powerful,” Kettler says. “They’ve become much richer, more professional. They’re now able to be much more engaged in this level of campaign activity.”

Kettler says state parties used to focus on statewide races and leave things like legislative races mostly to county party organizations. Now she says state parties sending out professionals to help candidates campaign in key local races is becoming more common.

Idaho GOP executive director David Johnston says his party’s use of field offices this year represents a big strategy change. Johnston says Idaho Republicans have used field offices some in past elections, but not to the extent they are this time around. And he says what they will be doing with them is completely different.

However, Johnston would not elaborate on what the field offices will do. The Democrats also do not want to give away too much of their strategy. Dean Ferguson would not say where the seven Democratic field organizers had been assigned. 

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

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