Eight of Idaho’s savviest Republican campaign hands advised incumbent lawmakers how to survive what Idaho GOP Chairman Barry Peterson has predicted will be the hottest primary election of his lifetime.
The “Republican Incumbents Campaign School” drew about 50 of the 85 GOP lawmakers to a 2 1/4-hour session held Jan. 10 at an event center two blocks from the Statehouse. The class was organized by former Sen. Skip Smyser and his lobbying partner Jason Kreizenbeck, a former chief of staff to Gov. Butch Otter. House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill gave opening remarks.
The lawmakers got schooled in campaign messaging, fundraising and polling.
The school’s other panelists were Jason Lehosit, a former campaign aide to Otter and campaign consultant; Todd Cranney, a top aide on the Mitt Romney presidential campaign; Greg Strimple, who polled for John McCain’s 2008 presidential run; Jeff Malmen, a former chief of staff to Otter and former Gov. Phil Batt and now vice president of public affairs at Idaho Power; Phil Reberger, former chief of staff to Gov. Dirk Kempthorne, the dean of Idaho Republican strategists and a lobbyist whose clients include Blue Cross and United Health; and Mike Reynoldson, a former executive director of the Idaho GOP who is government affairs manager at Micron and chairman of the board of the Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry.
“These guys have been around for a long time,” said Sen. Dean Mortimer, R-Idaho Falls. “They have valuable information and made it available to a large cross-section of candidates.”
For a full report, check out Sunday’s Idaho Statesman in print and online. The package will include comment from Otter’s primary opponent, Sen. Russ Fulcher, who was invited but did not attend; House Democratic Leader John Rusche; polling dope from Strimple on state and national issues; and a primer on the rules for voting in the May 20 primary.