COEUR d'ALENE — A new political action committee has formed hoping to challenge what it considers "business as usual" politics with a progressive focus.
Coeur d'Alene brothers Dan and Sherm Hanks have formed the Idaho for Freedom PAC and are finalizing other board members. Dan will serve as chairman, while Sherm will be treasurer.
"We consider ourselves to be progressive and actively engaged with the Democrat Party," Dan said. "Idaho politics used to be balanced, but somewhere along the line the pendulum got stuck on one side. The other side of it is that the Democratic Party needs to improve so they have a more significant role."
The brothers work for Cultivation Counseling, which offers mental health, career and family counseling and group therapy.
Dan said the PAC will be particularly interested in health care and education topics. It will be supportive of expanding Medicaid in Idaho and increasing funding for education.
"We haven't finalized what our stances will be on all major issues, but the expansion of Medicaid in Idaho is a huge agenda item that is really important," Dan said. "It is obvious how underserved the population is (with health care)."
The name of the PAC is similar to another political group called the Idaho Freedom Foundation and its sister organization Idaho Freedom Action, which endorses candidates.
"We're not related in any way, shape or form," Dan said.
Dan said he was unaware of the IFF when the Idaho for Freedom PAC was first being formed.
"At first, we did a double-take (after learning about the other group) and thought about having a different name so people wouldn't be confused," he said. "But then we thought it was interesting to have close names and an opposite value system so we thought that it would work in a different way."
Dan said the PAC plans to endorse candidates starting with the November general election and will begin fundraising soon. It will focus on Kootenai County races to start, but plans to go statewide eventually due to early interest from southern Idaho.
"We have come together over a concern that Idaho politics are not accurately representing the voters of all of Idaho at the state and national level," Sherm wrote in an email to The Press. "This is not a Democrat versus Republican association, but a group formed out of an understanding that government that is not representing all people is not a democracy.
"Our platform is freedom of rights and utilizing all legal means to address the ongoing opportunity to access these rights for all Idaho citizens. We want to support campaigns and political groups that support a more inclusive citizen voice. Candidates who are engaged in 'business as usual' politics will be challenged."
Sherm added candidates who wish to decrease individual, political, social, speech, health and gun rights will be opposed.
For more information or to become involved, email firstname.lastname@example.org.