‘Staff error’ led to claim candidate is only Dem ever elected from north Idaho

Paulette Jordan.
Paulette Jordan.

Paulette Jordan’s campaign says a “staff error” resulted in an email being sent out Wednesday claiming she is the “only Democrat ever elected” to the Legislature from north Idaho.

Jordan, who represented the 5th Legislative District from 2014 until she resigned last week, faces Boise businessman A.J. Balukoff in the May 15 gubernatorial primary.

The subject line of Wednesday’s email said, “Have we met yet?” It continues, “My name is Paulette Jordan and I’m running to be your next governor. I’m an Idaho native. For the last four years, I’ve served in the state Legislature as the only Democrat ever elected to represent northern Idaho — something I am tremendously proud of.”

Democrats actually have a long and distinguished history of representing north Idaho, both in the House and Senate.

The very first Democratic speaker of the House, for example, was Albert H. Alford, the co-founder of the Lewiston Tribune and great-granduncle of Tribune Publisher Nathan Alford.

Alford served one term in the Legislature, from 1897 to 1898, and was elected speaker by the 17 Republicans, 15 Democrats and 16 Progressive Party members in the House.

The first Democratic president of the Senate, Perry Mitchell, also was from north Idaho. He lived in Nez Perce County — and later in Lewis County — and served three terms as Senate president, beginning in 1917, 1935 and 1941.

Jeanne Givens, who like Jordan is a member of the Coeur d’Alene Tribe, was the first American Indian woman elected to the Legislature. She served in the House from 1985 to 1988, and later ran for Congress.

Jordan’s campaign said Wednesday’s email went out by mistake, before it had been checked for accuracy.

Balukoff issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying he’s “proud of the work and service that all of northern Idaho’s Democratic representatives have done for the people of the Gem State over the years, including former Gov. Cecil Andrus, as well as all of the former state senators and representatives who have served, including Dan Schmidt, Mary Lou Reed, Shirley Ringo, Liz Chavez, Mike Mitchell, Mary Lou Shepherd, Mike Naccarato, Ron Beitelspacher, Dan Rudolph, Bruce Sweeney, Gino White, Marguerite McLaughlin, Chuck Cuddy and June Judd, just to name a few. And of course I was humbled earlier this year when former House Minority Leader John Rusche of Lewiston publicly endorsed my candidacy.”

Spence may be contacted at bspence@lmtribune.com or (208) 791-9168.