Why I Support Larry Grant
[Local Idaho politics warning!]
Idaho had their primary election this Tuesday, and the slate for the open 1st Congressional District race is set: Democrat Larry Grant vs. Republican Bill Sali. Earlier this month, I blogged about why I, a lifelong Republican, was going to be voting for Democrats this November. When it comes to the national aspects of the race, I admit that there's a little bit of a "lesser of two evils" going on there -- two years of Rep. Pelosi as Speaker is a price I'm willing to pay to get the current crop of Republican legislative leaders to realize we're upset and to change the way they've been doing business (or get the voters to replace them with someone who will). In this race, however, I'm supporting Larry Grant not only because Bill Sali is a bad choice, but because Larry is a good one.
I first became aware of Larry Grant when I read a newspaper article about his campaign blog. I posted a snarky comment asking some questions about an entry his web manager had posted about Iraq, and was surprised to receive a thoughtful reply from the candidate himself. I did some more research, and found that Larry's really a moderate -- in most states I've been stationed in, his views were pretty much in line with mainstream Republican thought.
While people might be expected to emphasize their more "extreme" views during the primary race, and move back to the center for the general election, Larry was willing to take positions his Democratic "base" might be expected to oppose (like during this liveblog session, where he supported the concept of free trade). This showed me that he has actual values that he believes in, as opposed to those who will say anything to get elected. He's been a businessman his whole life, so he knows the importance of being fiscally responsible. He's also willing to admit that there are times he might change his mind if he gets additional information, which is why I'm not worried that some of his ideas on Iraq don't square with mine (permanent bases, etc) -- as he says: "I do not have, of course, access to all the military intelligence that would be available to me as a member of Congress...". He seems like a smart guy, and once he gets some more information, I'm sure he'll apply his business acumen to the problem and be a strong voice for innovative solutions.
Larry's opponent, Bill Sali, is a very, very conservative politician. His main monetary support has come from the "Club For Growth", an organization that exists solely to oppose taxes, as near as I can tell. Sali frequently mentioned that there are 105 congressmen who support
From his campaign website, it looks like Sali will be running on the issues that appeal to hard-core conservatives most. He lists 10 issues of importance to him, and expands on his views on five of them. Interestingly, the only mention of the military comes last on his list, and he apparently doesn't feel it's important enough to explain more about how he feels about the issue beyond "supporting our troops". He also obliquely mentions national security when talking about immigration. He supports using the National Guard to police the border without ever explaining how he would get around that pesky "Posse Comitatus" law.
Sali said on election night that people should vote for him, or otherwise Nancy Pelosi would become Speaker of the House. However, if current trends hold, the Dems are probably going to take control of the House no matter who's elected in Idaho's 1st district. I submit that it'd be better for western Idahoans to have a moderate Democrat who has a voice within the new House leadership representing them, rather than a bomb-throwing extremist from the opposition.
My good friends Adam Graham and Clayton Cramer are supporting Bill Sali, so I expect some interesting debate about the issue within the Idaho blogosphere. Hopefully this race can focus on the issues and the direction our country is heading, but based on the nastiness of the Republican primary, I don't think this will happen. So far Sali seems to be trying to paint Larry Grant as a liberal, which I think won't work... in addition to being incorrect, I think there will be a lot of traditional Republicans who come out to express their concern with Sali's strident ways.
Should be an interesting 5 1/2 months between now and November...
Update 1518 27 May: Edited to change the identity of the 105 supporters from "Club For Growth" to "Republican Study Group", although their announced goals look pretty much the same. I also forgot to mention that my good friend girlfriday had previously come out for Sali. Also, Diana says some nice things about me over at her place.
Update 0703 28 May: Adam Graham responds to my post here, and I gave a little bit of a rebuttal in his comments. I also found this compilation of quotes and links about how regular Idaho politicians, the ones who know Bill Sali best, really don't like him (don't like Sali, that is, not Adam).