Election Central

Idaho Democrats to rally Saturday for public education in seven cities

Idaho’s minority party, which owes its biggest success to candidates stressing support of public education, will hold education events in seven cities across the state Saturday.

“These events let elected leaders know education is a priority for Idahoans,” says a news release from the Idaho Democratic Party. “It is also a chance to meet and gather with fellow education supporters and share ideas for improving Idaho’s public education system.”

The Boise event is set for 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Little Theater at Centennial High School. Panelists include Boise Democratic Reps. Janie Ward-Engelking and Hy Kloc; Mike Lanza, who as president of Idaho Parents and Teachers Together helped convince voters to repeal GOP Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna’s “Students Come First” laws in November; and former Supreme Court Justice Robert Huntley, the Democratic nominee for governor who lost the 1998 governor’s race to Republican Dirk Kempthorne, 68 percent to 29 percent. Huntley has used the courts to press lawmakers to boost spending on school facilities, an effort that has fallen short of expectations.

In Caldwell at noon, Rep. Shirley Ringo, D-Moscow, who is running for Congress against GOP Rep. Raul Labrador, will appear at a rally at Oasis at the College of Idaho. She will be joined by former state Rep. Brian Cronin, who also helped defeat the “Luna Laws,” appearing opposite Luna at a City Club of Boise forum last October.

Events also are scheduled in Ketchum, Pocatello, Coeur d’Alene, Lewiston and Kamiah. (Details below.)

Democrats hope education will help them to electoral success, after a long drought. Boise School Board President AJ Balukoff is considering a race for governor next year against two-term GOP Gov. Butch Otter.

Democratic Govs. Cecil Andrus and John Evans led Idaho for 24 consecutive years beginning in 1971, making K-12 and higher education their signature issues. Andrus and Evans pressed the GOP-controlled Legislature to spend more and struck compromises that boosted public support.

But since Andrus retired in 1995, Democrats have been unable to win the governorship and have routinely lost races for other statewide races and Congress. With Labrador’s defeat of Democratic Congressman Walt Minnick in 2010, all seven state constitutional offices and all four seats in Congress are held by Republicans. Democrats hold 20 of 105 seats in the Legislature.

The news release follows:

Rally for Idaho Public Education, Sept. 28

Boise, Idaho—On Saturday, Sept. 28, events in support of Idaho public education will be held across Idaho. These events are organized by local Idaho Democratic parties and Idaho Young Democrats. Everyone, regardless of political affiliation, is welcome.

These events let elected leaders know education is a priority for Idahoans. It is also a chance to meet and gather with fellow education supporters and share ideas for improving Idaho’s public education system.

These cities are holding events on Saturday, Sept. 28:

Coeur d’Alene: Kootenai County Democrats will be conducting a phone bank to call the community and survey their opinions on education issues. Contact Paula Neils at 208.755.9590.

Kamiah: An education meeting on how to improve education locally, 4:30 p.m., Kamiah Community Hall.

Lewiston: Rally, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Blue Bridge in downtown Lewiston.

Caldwell: Rally, Noon, at the Oasis on College of Idaho campus. Speakers include 1st Congressional District candidate State Rep. Shirley Ringo and former state Rep. Brian Cronin.

Boise: Education forum, 10:30 to 11:30 a.m., Little Theater Centennial High School. Panelists are Rep. Janie Ward Engelking, Rep. Hy Kloc, former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Robert Huntley, and President of Idaho Parents and Teachers Together Mike Lanza.

Ketchum: Annual Oktoberfest, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., Forest Service Park, featuring education speakers.

Pocatello:  Rally, 11a.m., outside Student Union Building at Idaho State University.

Dan Popkey came to Idaho in 1984 to work as a police reporter. Since 1987, he has covered politics and has reported on 25 sessions of the Legislature. Dan has a bachelor's in political science from Santa Clara University and a master's in journalism from Columbia University. He was a Congressional Fellow of the American Political Science Association and a Journalism Fellow at the University of Michigan. A former page in the U.S. House of Representatives, he graduated Capitol Page High School in 1976. In 2007, he led the Statesman’s coverage of the Sen. Larry Craig sex scandal, which was one of three Pulitzer Prize finalists in breaking news. In 2003, he won the Ted M. Natt First Amendment award from the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association for coverage of University Place, the University of Idaho’s troubled real estate development in Boise. Dan helped start the community reading project "Big Read." He has two children in college and lives on the Boise Bench with an old gray cat.

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