Adam’s Blog

That’s my thing, keepin’ the faith, baby. –Joe Friday

Vindication on Larry Grant

Posted by Adam Graham on June 17, 2007

Today is a good day, becuase I got a gift of sorts from Dan Popkey, vindication.Last year, I spent a lot of time being informed of how wonderful Larry Grant was and how he’d bring us all together, and I spent a lot of time responding to this nonsense. Today Dan Popkey tells us the real story of the Grant Campaign:

Grant said he’s “disconcerted” by the criticism. “If folks think I’m gonna just toe the Democratic line, then I didn’t do a good job of presenting my position. What I probably need to do is talk with more of these folks more about their issues.”

Talking is one thing. Grant’s problem is listening…

Grant didn’t seize the moment. His campaign chief was an amateur working on her first campaign as a paid staffer. Grant also was hamstrung by his discomfort with retail politics — the county fairs, house parties and Rotary clubs where Idaho voters expect to be wooed.

Enter the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the little outfit that engineered Democratic takeover of the House. DCCC urged Grant to hire a professional campaign manager. Grant met the guy, but didn’t make the hire. “When the DCCC said, ‘You need this kid from California,’ I said no,” Grant recalled. “What could he have added to the campaign that we didn’t already have? The answer is nothing.”

Grant had watched former Rep. Richard Stallings lose to Dirk Kempthorne in the 1992 Senate race, in part because he hired an outside campaign chief who didn’t get Idaho. But it turns out the DCCC’s “kid” was an experienced hand in his 30s. With guidance, he could have helped.

The biggest riddle of 2006: Why, with polls showing a dead heat in October, did DCCC provide Grant no money? Answer: Because he was bullheaded and busy running what he liked to call “a different kind of campaign…”

It was a different type of campaign.

There was the whole flap over Grant thinking that having God in the pledge was unconstitutional (not reported by the Statesman), deceptive campaign advertising, hijacking an e-mail list to spam supporters of another candidate (not reported by the Statesman), ran TV ads with depressing music and tone, refuted himself on social security, never gave me a straight answer on whether they painted or photoshopped their donkey, and who could forget the Larry Grant for Congress broom drill team. Really, the arrogance that Popkey now writes about. Of course, Grant blew many opportunities

Immediately after Sali’s bruising primary, Grant had a great chance to establish himself as a moderate, business-friendly alternative. He had two meetings with the Associated General Contractors, who doubted Sali’s reliability on infrastructure spending, including highways.

Instead of courting them, the Ivy Leaguer from Fruitland lectured the contractors on unions, the minimum wage and a gas-tax hike, and said his aim would be to clean up Congress. “You may hate unions, but that’s the way it is, guys,” Grant recalled telling AGC. “I’m not afraid of being on the side of the working guy.”

So, the problem was that Grant was too liberal not only on social issues, but economic issues and was quite combative with these groups. Hmm. Didn’t that deserve press attention at the time?

Apparently, Popkey didn’t think so. I wouldn’t buy it if he said he didn’t know about it. Nobody gossips like political folks. Why didn’t we hear about how Grant campaign turned down offers of help and pushed aside timely advice?

Because the liberal media didn’t want us to hear about it. Dan Popkey was busy spouting nonsense such as, “Democrat Larry Grant appears poised to win by eroding the GOP vote.” go actually tell us the disaster going on with the Grant campaign. Don’t you think this was kind of important for voters to know about? Given that the chief media argument against Bill Sali was “doesn’t play well with others,” we ought to have known about Grant’s issues as well, but we didn’t. The media just regurgitated the same four or five stories of Bill Sali’s encounters with self-important legislative officials.

Why is this story coming out now? My opinion is that the intent is to head off a 2nd Grant campaign. Rand Lewis looks like a good bet to some folks in the state Democrat Party, much better than trying the second time to make a good first impression. It’d be a lot easier if Lewis ran unopposed or with token opposition rather than against Grant who has the money to compete, some national connections, and name recongition, but is almost certain to do worse in a 2nd round with Bill Sali.

Popkey’s piece will deal a blow to the Grant campaign, as Popkey continues to be the tool of liberal Democrat campaigns.


Linked by Idaho Values Alliance and Trish and Halli.

Thanks. Idaho Rocks comes to Grant’s defense:

Popkey also criticizes Larry’s campaign manager, who, based on my personal experience, was always on top of everything and available for any questions. Popkey conveniently never mentions Larry’s blogger, Julie from Red State Rebels, who almost single-handedly catapulted Larry into national attention and brought interest to this race on the DailyKos. Also, I don’t know which country fair, house party, or Rotary Club meeting Popkey attended while Larry Grant was present that caused him to quip about Grant’s “discomfort with retail politics,” but it obviously wasn’t in Idaho’s far north, where Larry always seemed at ease as well as having the ability to put others at ease as well.

Finally, I think that any Democrat who is “grieving and resentful” is more a figment of Popkey’s imagination than any reality I know of. I may be in Idaho’s far north, but I’m not stupid enough to fall for “the arrogance and political deafness” of some newspaper writer who decides to dump on a very viable, popular, and well-liked Democratic candidate.

Well, my friend, if Dan Popkey is now making up Democrats, than he’s continuing the same process of making up Republicans and predicting certain GOP doom on election day.

Randy Stapilus provides a more even-handed approach.

We do disagree on a couple of other points.

One mistake he attributes to Grant is his decision to use local help rather than national (one reason he didn’t get as much national party financial help as some other candidates). Maybe; but having seen parts of the national party/consultant world up close, we’re very hesitant to conclude that it was a bad call. Over the years, the Idaho track record of Democratic national operatives is spotty at best – take that as a generous view. (There’s a fine big-picture view of this point in the book Crashing the Gate by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga; their take on the Democratic consulting world is spot on.) Not knowing enough to evaluate the specific personnel in this case, we aren’t concluding that Grant made the right call there. But he may have.

Popkey suggests that Grant could have won this race save only, presumably, for his mistakes. We see no reason to think so. In an extremely close race, small things – a TV ad that technically was better or worse, or the shift of pockets of voters, could shift the results; anything could. This race wasn’t that close. Grant’s vote total was about 12,000 short of Sali’s, too much to make up with small-scale alterations. There is also the fact, not often mentioned, that Sali’s race, primary and general, was cannily run, and little was left to chance. The race was monitored intensively by Sali’s money backers (the same people, Club for Growth and associates, who had been with him since he entered the primary), and it was pouring in funds in the final weeks. So what if Grant missed out on a few hundred thousand from the Democratic party? The Club would have truck-loaded in much more than that in compensation. Most of the internal Republican issues that Sali faced post-primary were healed within a couple of months, and there’s little Grant could have done to change that. And this is a very Republican district that, up-ticket and down, continued its Republican voting patterns last year as they had been doing. There’s no evidence in the voting record that this race was so closely up for grabs.

Well, of course, Stapilus is right, there’s no proof that what the DCCC suggested would have done anything other than expend resources, but lest we forget, none of the incidents involving Bill Sali were ever put in context, so why put Grant’s issues in context. The important thing is that Larry Grant ignored advice: good, bad, or indifferent, does it really matter? What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

Also, Stapilus hits the nail on the head, Larry Grant didn’t lose the race. Bill Sali ran it, with a great campaign and organization from start to finish. Julie Fanselow has oddly enough posted a link to Stapilus’ piece.

One of the commenters is still trying to slam Andy Hedden-Nicely for running as a third party:

Not to nix competition but ANDY-HEDDON-NICELY former publisher of the BW was approaching all the liberal voters that wouuldn’t go near Sali ans telling them how He had a much better plan than grant.What was that plan andy? The Plan was to shove Grant out of the way of liberal voters while pushing a loser for the peple of Idaho into Congress.

Okay, lets take a look at the results, Bill Sali won by 11,908 votes, Andy Hedden-Nicely received 2,882 votes. Had the third parties not been running, Grant would have needed to win 98% of their votes to come out the winner. Sali got 49.94% of the vote. He won. Get over it.


4 Responses to “Vindication on Larry Grant”

  1. Adam, do you find it interesting that no one but me has come to comment on your post? That no else shares your glee as you dance on what you perceive to be Grant’s political grave?

    Once again, you and Bryan Fischer (who doesn’t allow comments) are alone in carrying Bill Sali on your shoulders. It must be awfully hard work, even with Dan Popkey serving as our “tool,” as you call him.

    I linked to Randy Stapilus’ piece because I found it far more nuanced in its analysis than Popkey’s. And nuance is clearly something we won’t find here, though I appreciate your nod to Idaho Rocks.

    The truth is, Larry Grant’s views are far closer to that of Idaho mainstream voters than those of Bill Sali.

  2. Adam Graham [Member] said

    Larry Grant is close to mainstream North End Values. You wouldn’t know mainstream if it knocked on your door. And as for no one else commenting…Julie, look around, I don’t get comments, I get readers. Halli Stone e-mailed me a comment that she had trouble posting for some reason and I’ll get it up later on tonight.

  3. Exceptionally insightful! Way to nail Popkey, who must have been separated from his twin, Marty Trillhaase (of the Idaho Falls paper), at birth.

    These self-important journalists don’t report the news, or legitimately opine on the headlines. They seek to MAKE news. They have an agenda, which is diametrically opposed to the best interest of Idahoans. Of course they and their cronies gather once a year or so to pat each other on the back. They hand out meaningless awards to each other, which are then trotted before the naive public to justify their rants.

    Thanks for exposing the real motivation behind Popkey’s latest. Keep up the good work!

  4. I wouldn’t put a fork in Larry Grant just yet. I don’t fault him for snubbing the DCCC, but it certainly stands to reason he could have been a bit more aggressive in courting independents and moderate Republicans. A bolder approach to that could have made the difference. But you know me, “L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace!”

    And yet we still trot out the tired, unimaginative specter that is “media bias,” as if bias-free mass media ever existed. Hello, op-ed pieces in particular are SUPPOSED to be biased. Nothing like quaint romanticizing for cheap political points. So what if Popkey is slanted? So is everyone else that writes for a living.

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