Today I offer a story without a lot of commentary. It is the story of Steve Berch, a Democrat, who just won a seat in the Idaho legislature, winning 54.5% of the vote against a five term entrenched Republican in what had been considered a deeply red legislative district, LD15, just west of Boise. Here’s the link: The article is entitled “Persistence.” It appeared on November 9 in the Daily Kos. For a better presentation of Mr Berch than the photo in the Daily Kos article visit here.
I offer this story hoping all the Democratic candidates for offices in eastern Washington whom I’ve met in the last two years will have a chance to read it. All of them I’ve gotten to know a little are decent, honest folk, people with expertise and life experience with which I can identify and resonate. None is a career politician. Each of them put an enormous amount of time, energy, and personal funds into their election effort. Nearly all faced a disappointing result…at so far.
I hope all of them take heart in this story of Steve Berch (as well as the story I told of Georgia’s Congressional District 6 that I told a few days ago). There is a crying need to take back our country. There is a lot of new found energy in eastern Washington to do just that, energy fueled by these candidates who stepped up and ran for office in a region of Washington State where Democrats were beginning to feel abandoned, overtaken by the din from the Washington Policy Center, some “Christian” preachers, Rush Limbaugh, and the incumbency of the McMorris Rodgers regime.
I thank all the intrepid citizens who stepped up and ran. They and we have learned a lot…a lot we can build on in the next go-round.
Talking with voters on their doorsteps I heard, “You send them to ____, and over years they become part of the corrupt system that is no longer working. I’m not going to vote at all. It’s hopeless.” They spoke of term limits. There are few specifics with which I agree with McMorris Rodgers. but we share partial agreement on this: standing for election every two years can and should be an effective term limit. The problem with that is several fold: 1) Incumbents have many inherent advantages, including money, established connections, and influence, 2) Voters bias toward incumbents based on name recognition and reluctance to change, 3) when an incumbent stumbles there has to be an attractive replacement at the ready in the next election.
Steve Berch’s story of persistence is a study in all of that: Over several elections, thousands of doors knocked and people talked with he developed name recognition, gathered monetary support, and came ever closer to a majority of the votes. I have not studied his campaign in detail, but I suspect Mr. Berch benefited from voter anger over the incumbent’s persistent and vocal disapproval of Medicaid expansion–an issue front and center in the form of an Idaho ballot initiative, Prop. 2. Mr. Berch was on the ballot, armed with name recognition and an opinion when the incumbency shield of his five term opponent cracked over the Medicaid expansion issue.
No one can win an election if they are not on the ballot. An incumbent running effectively unopposed is an incumbent empowered to follow his or her worst instincts.
Thanks to all those Democrats, especially those first timers, who ran in eastern Washington this election. May it be that many of them are willing to try again. Many of us, knowing them better than we did, will still be here and ready to support them.
Keep to the high ground,