Butch's Tale (Western Front 2006)


As someone who wants to see libertarian Republicans elected (and as someone who wrote a multi-thousand word profile of the man in the newest Reason), I was counting on Rep. Butch Otter rolling to victory in Idaho's governor's race. Well, oops.

Republican and Democratic candidates in a few major Idaho political races are separated by just a few percentage points and virtually tied, according to a new statewide poll published Sunday of 625 voters who said they were likely to cast a ballot Nov. 7.

U.S. Rep. C.L. "Butch" Otter, the GOP candidate for governor, is virtually tied with Democrat Jerry Brady, according to the poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research of Washington, D.C., for the Idaho Statesman and KIVI-TV on Oct. 23-25.

In the summer, Otter held a healthy lead over Brady, a newspaper mogul who lost 2002's gubernatorial contest. Less than two months ago he led him 42-18 in one poll. So, uh… what's going on? Is Brady actually getting mileage out of attacking Otter on public land sales? Has he simply out-organized a GOP that's won the governor's office since 1994 and the presidential race since 1968? Or is the national GOP cholera taking out Republicans even in the safest states?

Maybe it's that last one. The Democrats are having something of a Western surge right now, competing for seats that didn't show up on their map six months ago - Washington House seats, Nevada's state house, Colorado's most Republican House seat, Idaho's first congressional district. Dick Cheney is actually coming back home to Wyoming to campaign for his own congresswoman, wannabe Libertarian-slapper Barbara Cubin. Think about that. In the last week of the 2004 campaign, Cheney was trying to poach Hawaii from the Democrats. Now it's a coin flip whether or not his home state will send a Republican to Congress next year.