COEUR d’ALENE — The Idaho Democratic Party is putting out a brushfire that flared up after gubernatorial candidate Paulette Jordan sent out a controversial campaign fundraising email Saturday. The email from “Idaho Dems (via Paulette Jordan)” solicited funds in the last days leading up to the party primary May 15. The term “Idaho Dems” is part of the state party’s Twitter handle and its Facebook page address. Jordan faces 2014 Democratic gubernatorial nominee A.J. Balukoff for this year’s Democratic nomination.
According to party spokeswoman Shelby Scott, some Idaho Democrats feared that the state party had endorsed Jordan in violation of its pledge to remain neutral among Democrats during the primary season.
“This email was not from the Idaho Democratic Party nor was it approved by the Party,” stated Scott on Wednesday.
Scott explained that the state party’s primary policy requires neutrality by staff members and prohibits them from “any appearance of impropriety even when impropriety is not intended.” IDP employees are barred from serving on the campaign committee, finance committee, and fundraising event host committee for any Democratic candidate in a contested primary.
They also can’t make campaign contributions to any Democratic candidate in a contested primary, added Scott.
Idaho Democratic Party chairman Bert Marley said, “We have maintained neutrality and will continue to do so until after the primary.”
After stating Wednesday that she supports the neutrality policy and did not intend to imply that the state party had endorsed her campaign, Jordan shot back at her critics by claiming that Balukoff had used the same verbiage in a campaign mailer.
“I think we are all proud to be ‘Idaho Democrats’ including AJ — who used the exact same wording in a glossy mail piece sent out to voters,” wrote Jordan in the statement.
Idaho Republican Party communications director Mary Strow said Wednesday that state GOP party rules do allow the central committee to endorse Republican candidates during the primary cycle, but that it has refrained from using that power. Republican central committees at the county and legislative district levels also have that power but have similarly exercised restraint, she added.
State chairman Jonathan Parker was elected in July 2017 in part based on a pledge to keep the state party neutral during the 2018 primary season, Strow said.