PACs have pull - Coeur d'Alene Press: Local News

PACs have pull

Committees play major roles in elections

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Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013 9:45 am

COEUR d'ALENE - After the election smoke cleared Wednesday, it became obvious that political action committees had a definite influence on the outcome of the city elections.

Two PACs in particular played major roles in both Coeur d'Alene and Post Falls.

The Reagan Republican Victory Fund, which is an extension of the Kootenai County Reagan Republicans membership organization, backed a slate of candidates in both cities.

Balance North Idaho, a PAC that was formed earlier this year to field qualified candidates for nonpartisan elections regardless of political affiliation, also put up a slate of candidates in both races.

In the end, the BNI candidates outpaced RR candidates and swept all of the seats in both cities, leaving most of the unendorsed candidates in the dust.

There was an exception in the Post Falls City Council race, with incumbent Betty Anne Henderson winning her seat after renouncing a Reagan Republican endorsement. Neither of her opponents were endorsed either.

Henderson said on election night that she turned the endorsement down because the city council races are supposed to be nonpartisan and she wanted to honor that.

Another notable race result was Kerri Thoreson's loss to Mayor-elect Ron Jacobson. Thoreson had significant name recognition going into the race, but lost momentum as the campaign played out.

She said Wednesday that she had trouble overcoming the "community cheerleader" label her opponent successfully used against her. Outgoing Mayor Clay Larkin's endorsement of her opponent also worked against her, she said, adding that having the Reagan Republican endorsement probably had an effect on her bid for mayor as well.

"In light of what went on in Coeur d'Alene, I would say that there was probably some seepage into the Post Falls races," she said, adding there was probably some collateral damage. "By the same token, I think Ron probably benefited from the Balance North Idaho endorsement."

In hindsight, Thoreson said her preference would be that neither PAC participate in the local races because once they do, the race is elevated to a higher level of partisan politics.

"Take Balance North Idaho," she said. "They can call it what they will, but they are a political action committee."

Thoreson said she isn't trying to blame her loss on any one factor, but when the PACs entered the race in Post Falls this year it became more partisan than any other campaign she has run.

Ron Lahr, RR board member and president of the Strategery Group, agreed that the city races were definitely hard-fought this year.

"That is very impressive what they (BNI) did," Lahr said on Wednesday. "They deserve kudos and I congratulate them on a record-setting campaign."

The Strategery Group ran a majority of the campaigns for the Reagan Republican candidates. Lahr said it is too soon to tell if the strategy they used was flawed, because BNI drove an unexpected increase of 2,000 voters to the polls and he has yet to see who those voters were.

"It's hard to make any judgments until we see who voted," he said. "They got an additional 2,000 voters, and that gave them the massive victory."

Lahr said Strategery used a strategy to drive the partisan voters - who usually don't vote in the nonpartisan races - to the polls and that appeared to work.

"Two years ago these same numbers gave (Coeur d'Alene City Councilman) Steve Adams a 23-point victory," he said. "But that wasn't enough to overcome an additional 2,000 voters."

Lahr said he will be interested to see who voted, once that information is tabulated and released to the public.

Eden Irgens, president of BNI and co-owner of Range NW, said their strategy was all about voter turnout.

"We knew what we had to do and we did it," she said. "We had people on the ground for weeks, and I know one person alone that knocked on 600 doors."

Range NW ran most of the campaigns for the BNI slate of candidates. She said the group wanted to maintain a positive campaign and get people who ordinarily wouldn't vote to the polls.

"I think we accomplished that," she said, adding BNI will now have to sit out the upcoming primary election season because they are partisan races and BNI's mission is to focus on nonpartisan races.

"That makes me really nervous," she said. "North Idaho PAC (otherwise known as 'Reasonable Republicans') will hopefully get involved. I know they are Republicans too, but at least they are different group of Republicans."

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  • Freethinker posted at 2:39 pm on Fri, Nov 8, 2013.

    Freethinker Posts: 422

    CC is sad because his side lost. Now he has a need to label those people who made them sad, and pronounce doom and gloom on the rest of us. Its hard when folks try and reshape their world according to their beliefs and not reality. But reality has a way of knocking sense into people especially come election day. Good luck with that belief system....

  • Why Not posted at 12:16 pm on Fri, Nov 8, 2013.

    Why Not Posts: 5021

    "LIBERAL are for uncontrolled government spending and handouts" - Not exactly CC, liberal inclined people like myself don't believe in handouts or wholesale government spending and growth, politicians buying your favor do that CC.

    Contrary to your narrow opinion, Liberals believe in fairness and we believe in responsible government, one that manages growth and is fair towards all the citizens, no matter what color or gender. Whether they are homosexual, mentally or physically challenged, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Native American, we don't care because we see and treat everyone as equals, just like it says in the Fourteenth Amendment.

    This narrow definition of Liberal and Conservative is ridiculous. Normal people who otherwise like each other have allowed their true values to become misguided by political parties and the entertainers who promote hate towards fellow Americans and it's ripping this country apart. If you really explore this phenomena, it has to do with power and control rather than free thinking and rights.

  • will-- posted at 11:44 am on Fri, Nov 8, 2013.

    will-- Posts: 1093

    It's obvious the RR's supported the wrong group of candidates.

    Next time they might try finding a few fresh faces without the perception of dirty laundry.

  • will-- posted at 11:40 am on Fri, Nov 8, 2013.

    will-- Posts: 1093

    "Eden Irgens, of BNI is republican too"

    Could be a RINO too.

  • IAMWOMAN posted at 11:39 am on Fri, Nov 8, 2013.

    IAMWOMAN Posts: 56

    open-minded and positive vs. narrow minded and negative - excellent spin and totally relative

    It's all about perception. I am of the opinion that those labels should be applied opposite of the media spin.

    Both teams are critical of each other. One is made up of "my pappy's pappy was born here" legacy locals who think they have more right to decide what the future of CDA brings. The other is made up of people who are critical of legacy status. If you are critical, you are narrow-minded and negative. If you are not critical, you are open-minded and positive.

    I perceive that CDA will develop every last inch of natural real estate in town and then expand beyond with annexation. Yes, please, put in benches and garbage cans, lemonade stands and an ampitheater on Tubbs Hill. The citizens of CDA have had enough of nondevelopment. After all, we can find nature 15 minutes away by car, so let's just get on with the civilization/urbanization of this chic, hip, and urban lakeside community. We will never rest from development because it is perpetual. People impact their environment.

    I suggest the Souza team get on board with Vision 2030. Make sure your voices are heard. Don't stand back.

    I wish the Widmyer team success for the future of CDA and hope that they have taken notes on what worked and what didn't work with the Bloem team. The votes were not overwhelmingly in favor of Widmyer, though they were a majority. The city is split.

    Let's work on overcoming the us vs them mentality. Just because your family has been here longer than mine does not mean that you know best. We are all here together, why perpetuate the fracturing of our community?

    PACS should not exist. Corporations should not be considered individuals. And we should embrace more political parties. Democrats and Republicans, neither represent me. Yes, full disclosure on all funding from everyone, be it $5 or $5K.

    I think Green. I intend to bring that to Vision 2030.

  • concernedcitizen posted at 10:51 am on Fri, Nov 8, 2013.

    concernedcitizen Posts: 2530

    You people have me ROFLMBO claiming who is a repub and who is not. LIBERAL are for uncontrolled government spending and handouts which is what is going to continue.

  • Why Not posted at 4:55 am on Fri, Nov 8, 2013.

    Why Not Posts: 5021

    10-4 on that FG

    There was a clear choice that was driven by PAC messages: Open minded and positive vs. narrow minded and negative.

  • Randy_Myers posted at 12:23 am on Fri, Nov 8, 2013.

    Randy_Myers Posts: 136

    Eden Irgens, of BNI is republican too

  • Randy_Myers posted at 12:18 am on Fri, Nov 8, 2013.

    Randy_Myers Posts: 136

    Before you tell me to take off my blinders perhaps you should do some research. Amy Evans is a Republican. Kiki Miller is a Republican. Woody is unaffiliated.

  • kageman posted at 8:02 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    kageman Posts: 14

    Because, they're liberals Randy. Sometimes, that trumps party affiliation.

  • kageman posted at 7:43 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    kageman Posts: 14

    It's stunning to see liberal democrats in a Republican state and county; being able to win city council seats and dominate the CDA City Council for 30 years. They win because, alot of the stakeholders etc. are democrats who energize their base better.

  • kageman posted at 7:37 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    kageman Posts: 14

    Is that why they only endorsed liberal democrats for city council. Take off your blinders for a moment.

  • Flash Gordon posted at 5:02 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    Flash Gordon Posts: 1487

    The political landscape at the state, county, and city levels is dominated by the republican party. Money or not, it's stunning to see a coalition of dems, moderate repubs, and "hold your noses" stop the tea party in its tracks in this particular election......

  • Randy_Myers posted at 4:53 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    Randy_Myers Posts: 136

    Yeppers Mike. Those types of facts will get you jeers over here in troll land.

  • Randy_Myers posted at 4:51 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    Randy_Myers Posts: 136

    Of course they will since they are NOT a Democratic (let alone liberal) PAC.

    This denial is brought to you by someone not affilated with BNI.

  • Randy_Myers posted at 4:50 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    Randy_Myers Posts: 136

    What are Republicans like Riggs and Patano doing on a liberal Democrat PAC then kage ? You really need to research more before you make non-factual statements.

    NOT that I have anything against liberal Democrats. I do dislike PACs though. Republican, Democrat or otherwise. BTW...I thought local elections were supposed to be non-partisan.

  • Randy_Myers posted at 4:46 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    Randy_Myers Posts: 136

    I think you have a very valid point ancient.

  • Wolfeyes posted at 1:44 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    Wolfeyes Posts: 79

    Mike , If you had attended the democratic club forum you would have heard Fillios say that he interviewed with BNI. After his interview, Eden disclosed that she was working on Amy Evans campaign and recused her self from the vote. Downright unethical. She should have recused herself from the meeting. BNI's campaign was about hiding the truth from the public on who they really are. If Eden failed to disclose, then why would anyone believe that BNI is non partisan?

  • dfg posted at 12:54 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    dfg Posts: 165

    Now that BNI has the power on CDA school board, CDA council and mayor of PF, seems kinda UN-balanced to me.

  • greyhound2 posted at 12:07 pm on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    greyhound2 Posts: 896

    A review of major campaign contributors could offer a picture of who really is pulling the strings and also to provide a window to view what's most likely to occur in the near future. It is SS/DD, FUBAR or SNAFU?

  • Intrepid posted at 11:45 am on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    Intrepid Posts: 1057

    "BNI was founded earlier this year..........." Well yeah, it was founded by Widmyer to provide Widmyer with a well funded and organized PAC. Nice...........

  • parent posted at 11:19 am on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    parent Posts: 347

    "BNI is a liberal democrat pac."
    Yes they are!!!!!
    But they will deny it. : )

  • Miketeague posted at 10:47 am on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    Miketeague Posts: 2398

    I don’t think anyone can tell the number of people that were turned off because of party and PAC’s involvement in a non partisan race. PAC’s are right up there with Corporations are people, money is free speech and the deep pockets of lobbyist as the major problems of our Government. I do have to say this, BNI invited all the candidates to interview, the Souza slate refused. RR only interviewed their members.

  • ancientemplar posted at 10:07 am on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    ancientemplar Posts: 1268

    I think the results of the election were in a large degree the result of the losers hitching their campaign's horse to the Strategery's wagon. After all these guy's couldn't even establish their business properly with the Idaho Secretary of State's Office.

  • kageman posted at 9:56 am on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    kageman Posts: 14

    Your just an extension of hbo rhetoric. BNI is a liberal democrat pac.

  • Randy_Myers posted at 9:24 am on Thu, Nov 7, 2013.

    Randy_Myers Posts: 136

    I liked the outcome that BNI had but wish that no PACs were involved in local elections. BNI communicated to me that they had formed specifically to counteract the RRs (and Strategery).

    Elections can be purchased and PACs are the mechanism. I wish we could get rid of them on all levels

    Kudos to henderson for not accepting RR's endorsement. Thoreson seems to have her loss well analyzed I think she IS a cheerleader and there is a place for that on PF city council. I know she is highly involved in PF (and Cd'A for that matter) and hope she continues to contribute positively.

  • Fly in the ointment posted at 11:33 pm on Wed, Nov 6, 2013.

    Fly in the ointment Posts: 606

    PAC mentality…


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