In Idaho, where Democratic candidates face an uphill battle, election results have to be viewed with a different lens than just winning or losing. Sometimes as Democrats we measure success by civic engagement and the number of volunteers, sometimes by passionately influencing the debate and the high performance of candidates, other times by strides and, always, as an investment in the future of our party and our beautiful state. Using that scorecard, we did well in Bonneville County.
As a poll watcher for the first time, I witnessed at seven polling places in Bonneville County the thrilling increase in voter turnout for this election. All of the polling places reported long lines before the polls even opened, and there were midafternoon and evening lines. Especially inspiring was seeing the many first time voters and the pride in their faces to be influencing the direction of our county, state and country. While voter intimidation was reported elsewhere in Idaho, I observed only fairness and calm at our polling places. Bonneville County Democratic Party poll watchers were at all District 33 locations.
We opened the east Idaho Democratic campaign headquarters in late August and had a steady stream of people coming through delighted to see the hub of activity and strategizing. Many said they were voting for Democrats for the first time in their lives because of the extreme-right takeover of the Republican Party. It’s no secret that Reagan Republicans are now Democrats.
Several of these recent converts became our hard-working, devoted volunteers who helped first-time candidates Miranda Marquit and David Roth run impressive District 33 campaigns during a pandemic. Marquit, finishing just shy of 40% of the vote, articulated among other issues the over-reliance on property taxes for school funding.
The bottom line is that we do not have fairness in taxes in Idaho, and voting for Democrats will help get us to equitable taxing. Until then, our students will continue to suffer from underfunded education.
Roth received nearly 35% of the vote and gained a lot of momentum during the final weeks of the election. A newcomer to the Democratic Central Committee this year, Roth quickly became a passionate voice for improving education for our children. There is no doubt in my mind that Marquit and Roth’s election losses are Idaho’s loss. Both have bright futures as leaders at the state level, and I hope they will run again in 2022.
While also not winning, Bingham County House District 31 candidate Travis Oler sharply articulated the damage to our state that hyperpartisanship, inflamed by the Idaho Freedom Foundation, has caused. Idaho Democrats have honed the art of compromise.
We will do better in 2022 without the strictures of a pandemic and with a clear path forward. Democrats have contributed greatly to Bonneville County, and we will make our leadership roles much more visible. We want you to know that many of your friends who are making a difference and improving our quality of life in our community and Idaho are Democrats.
Pat Tucker is chairwoman of the Bonneville County Democratic Party.