The dog days of summer have arrived for Democrats working to gain attention in their effort to unseat two top dogs of the Idaho GOP establishment — U.S. Sen. Jim Risch and Gov. Butch Otter.
Senate challenger Nels Mitchell on Monday issued a critique of a recent Risch fundraising letter, in which Mitchell ultimately comes to terms with Risch calling him a "Democrat agent."
Mitchell allows that he first considered "agent" a loaded word, but on second thought decided he was just fine being an advocate for "tens of thousands of Idaho voters who need friends in high places."
"I will be an 'agent' of those rank and file citizens — senior citizens, veterans, hardworking families struggling to make ends meet — who need a fighting chance against the high, the mighty and the soon-to-be-retired senator from Idaho," writes Mitchell.
Mitchell concludes his essay, "I am Agent Nels Mitchell and I am at your service."
Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial nominee A.J. Balukoff, announced on Fourth of July eve that Rep. Mat Erpelding, D-Boise, will be filling in as his communications director while his top spokesman, Mike Lanza, is away for the month of July.
“As a former college instructor, Mat has seen firsthand the negative implications of Idaho’s underfunded public education system,” Balukoff said in a news release. “Idaho colleges and universities have struggled under Gov. Otter, and Idahoans want our state to invest in education. And, as someone who worked to oppose the flawed Luna Laws, Mat understands that concern. I welcome his expertise.”
The news releases follow.
A MESSAGE FROM NELS MITCHELL IN RESPONSE TO RISCH FUNDRAISING EMAIL
Recently, a friend shared with me the latest internet fundraising appeal sent out by my opponent, Senator Risch. Risch's solicitation was full of unfounded assumptions and half-truths, but what most surprised - even amused - me was the fact that he was all excited because Idaho Democrats have sent an "agent" to oppose him.
"They've put up one of their Democratic agents to run against me," he complained.
Agent? In some campaigns I could mention, that's called a loaded word.
You might call someone who has the gall to oppose a self-important incumbent a "candidate," or an "opponent" or even "the Democratic nominee."
But an agent?
On second thought, though, my opponent - "the Republican agent" - might be on to something in a narrow-minded and backward kind of way.
Wikipedia, that fountain of knowledge on the Internet, defines "agent" this way:
"An agent is one who acts for, or in the place of another...one entrusted with the business of another."
Boldly speaking for the senator as well as for myself, we are both agents in that sense. Just as the senator is an official agent of the Idaho Republican Party, I am proud to be an agent - more often called a nominee - of the Idaho Democratic Party. Voters gave me that honor and responsibility in the May primary, and I take it very seriously.
The difference, of course, is on whose behalf we act.
Risch aligns himself with special interests and their lobbyist --those powerful people who require agents like Risch to help them dominate the government for their own lop-sided benefit. Some of the special interest Political Action Committees that have written large checks to Risch's campaign include those affiliated with Koch Industries, Halliburton, RJ Reynolds, Occidental Petroleum, Marathon Oil, Credit Suisse, and JP Morgan, to name just a few.
I, on the other hand, will be an advocate for the tens of thousands of Idaho voters who need friends in high places. I will be an "agent" of those rank and file citizens -- seniors, veterans, hardworking families struggling to make ends meet -- who need a fighting chance against the high, the mighty and the soon-to-be-retired senator from Idaho.
The Democratic voters of Idaho have already done me the great service of making me their agent. Now I welcome the opportunity to broaden that assignment, to be the agent for all the people of Idaho.
I am Agent Nels Mitchell and I am at your service.
REPRESENTATIVE MAT ERPELDING JOINS BALUKOFF CAMPAIGN AS INTERIM COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR
BOISE, Idaho - Democratic candidate for governor A.J. Balukoff has hired Rep. Mat Erpelding, a former legislative staffer, college educator, author and high altitude climbing guide, to be his campaign’s interim communication director.
“As a former college instructor, Mat has seen firsthand the negative implications of Idaho’s underfunded public education system,” Balukoff said. “Idaho colleges and universities have struggled under Gov. Otter, and Idahoans want our state to invest in education. And, as someone who worked to oppose the flawed Luna Laws, Mat understands that concern. I welcome his expertise.”
“I care deeply for Idaho,” Erpelding said. “A.J.’s success as a business leader and as an educational leader has been phenomenal, and he is needed in our Capitol. A.J. will bring balance and prosperity back to Idaho, and I am proud to work toward his election.”
Erpelding will serve as the primary media contact until the end of July while the campaign’s communication director Mike Lanza is on leave.