Election Central

Pity the Otter telemarketer who dialed my number

When I get a call from a telephone solicitor, I can’t help feeling sympathetic. What a difficult job it must be to get hung up on hundreds of times in a shift. I picture the caller in a cramped space, surrounded by a cacophony of voices, never shedding her worries about making the rent.

About 8:30 p.m. Monday, a pleasant-voiced woman called. I suspect she wasn’t a loyal volunteer from Idaho by the way she stumbled over the name of Gov. Butch Otter’s campaign treasurer, Cordell Chigbrow. My guess: Florida.

She told me how Otter’s conservative fiscal policies had put Idaho in better economic shape than the rest of the country and asked for $75 to support his re-election.

“A little bit from everyone goes a long way,” she said.

Misunderstanding her, I thought she said I’d already contributed and was soliciting an additional gift. When I asked if she had me down as a patron of the campaign, she said, “No, not yet.”

Then I told her I couldn’t contribute because of my job.

“Oh really?” she replied, sounding genuinely interested. “What is it that you do?”

“I work for the Statesman and actually am covering the campaign,” I answered.

“OK,” she said. “That’s no problem. OK, I will let you go. Have a great day.”

Before she rang off — and I gotta love her for this — she completed the call with a rapid-fire recitation of the script’s disclosure statement: “This call has been paid for by Otter for Idaho, Cordell Chigbrow, treasurer. Please visit us on the web at otter4idaho.com. Have a great day. Bye.”

In 90 seconds, it was over and I was left feeling melancholy. So, to all the people in boiler rooms across the country just trying to make a living, I salute you. May you exceed your quota.


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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Posted in Election Central, Idaho Politics