Guest Opinions

Democrats: It's OK to vote like a Democrat in the May 15 primary

“I Voted” stickers await Idaho voters at the Boise Depot in 2008.
“I Voted” stickers await Idaho voters at the Boise Depot in 2008. Statesman file

Fearing that Republican candidate Raul Labrador might be elected governor, some well-intentioned Idahoans recently devised a strategy to encourage Democrats to register as Republicans. The thinking was, by voting for the “most moderate Republican” candidate, they might keep Labrador from winning. They believed this “anyone but Labrador” strategy was the closest thing to having a voice in the gubernatorial race.

[Related: Check out all the candidates at the Statesman's online voter guide ]

Labrador’s opponents, meanwhile, have raced far right, believing the only vote that matters in this state is the Republican primary. Tommy Alhquist campaigned for large-donor money at Mar-a-Lago and promises massive cuts to public services. Lt. Gov. Brad Little co-signed an executive order allowing insurance companies to sell junk insurance plans – an idea even Trump administration officials said went too far. These are the two “moderate” choices that erstwhile Democrats have in the primary.

Disheartened Democrats who want to push back should survey the Republican TV ads showing that pro-birth and pro-gun is the path forward for Idaho. No Republican candidate mentions how poorly funded our public education is, or the fact that 61,000 Idahoans do not have health care.

The idea that the Republican primary is the only vote that matters in Idaho is certainly supported by precedence and data. We are here to argue, however, that one-party rule – and resignation to it – is fundamentally undemocratic. Democracy depends on opposing views being aired and debated in the public arena. While Democrats’ frustration is understandable, breaking with their party in the primary robs Idaho of this fundamental role that opposing voices must play.

This year, Democrats have a real primary between two viable gubernatorial candidates -- Paulette Jordan and AJ Balukoff. Jordan is an experienced leader in business, her tribe and the state Legislature. Balukoff is a long-time Boise School District Board of Trustee member and businessman who ran for governor in 2014.

To those who switched party affiliations to try to block Labrador, it’s not too late. Regardless of party affiliation, you can request a Democratic ballot and vote in the Democratic primary up and down the ballot. The primary is May 15, but early voting has started. Register to vote online at Or register to vote at the polls on Election Day by bringing proof of ID and Idaho residency.

At your polling place, you will be handed a ballot for the party with which you are registered. At that point, you can request a Democratic ballot, and poll workers will comply, even if you are a registered Republican.

We are not asking you to change who you are. We are only asking you to take your truest self into the ballot box. Voting your convictions will result in the Idaho you wish to see.

Sandmire volunteers with Reclaim Idaho and founded Activate Idaho. Goodhew founded Idaho Moms for a Brighter Future.