Elections

Undecided Idaho superdelegate comes down on Clinton’s side

Idaho Democratic Party Vice Chairwoman Van Beechler of Caldwell is a clinical supervisor of a developmental disabilities agency. She voted for Clinton at the national convention in Philadelphia Tuesday.
Idaho Democratic Party Vice Chairwoman Van Beechler of Caldwell is a clinical supervisor of a developmental disabilities agency. She voted for Clinton at the national convention in Philadelphia Tuesday. Jennifer Kerrigan

Van Beechler, born on Election Day in 1978, always had a passion for politics.

But on her 22nd birthday, Beechler cried into her cake.

It was November 2000, the first presidential election she could vote in. Beechler was with Kootenai County Democrats on election night when every local candidate she had been working with lost.

Then, initial reports that Democrat Al Gore had beaten George W. Bush for presidency had to be withdrawn.

With tears still in her eyes, Beechler then heard news that gave her hope. Hillary Clinton had won her race to become the U.S. senator from New York.

“I remember thinking this was a beacon of hope,” Beechler said. “That we were going to make it.”

Beechler followed Clinton’s career, later caucusing for her in Ada County when she ran for president in 2008. She paid close attention after Clinton announced her run for president in 2016.

It’s hard not to feel the Bern.

Democratic superdelegate Van Beechler

In February, Beechler was elected Idaho Democratic Party vice chairwoman. A few weeks after, she confirmed that she would be attending the national convention as a superdelegate.

Bernie Sanders won an overwhelming majority of Idaho delegates in the Democratic caucus, but Beechler publicly announced herself undeclared. She remained publicly undecided until Tuesday night’s vote for the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, when she cast her vote for Clinton.

“I was on the fence,” Beechler said. “I thought, ‘I have a new role. What is my duty?’ ”

Beechler struggled to balance her personal views with what was best for Idaho. She met with Sanders when he visited Boise and spoke to both campaigns extensively leading up to the convention.

“It’s hard when you like them both,” Beechler said. “He (Sanders) has mobilized our youth, he’s brought our platform toward progressive. It’s hard not to feel the Bern.”

It came down to what was best for the state on a national level, Beechler said, and to her that meant Clinton.

“She stressed about this a lot,” said Idaho Clinton delegate Jesse Maldonado, “but in the end she voted for who she think will make the best president of the United States.”

It was not a vote that came easily to Beechler. Some people were bound not to be pleased with her decision.

“She’s done a lot for our party and for candidates throughout the state,” Maldonado said. “So, if they don’t respect her vote, they should respect her for that.”

While Beechler may have reconciled her conscience with her party, other Democratic delegates have not been able to do the same.

Tension between Clinton and Sanders supporters had been building throughout the convention. After Clinton won the party’s presidential nomination, Sanders delegates staged at walkout at the Wells Fargo Center. Among them were a number of Idaho delegates.

Jennifer Kerrigan is a student journalist at Temple University: jennifer.kerrigan@temple.edu.

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