Randy Stapilus writes that Bill Sali was an ineffective legislator, and disliked on a personal level by his fellow legislators. Stapilus also writes that Dems ought not be dancing in the streets, a sobering assessment.
Agreed. Pride goeth before a fall, overweening hubris, and all that. Any Dem running in Idaho has a tough fight against an R. With the gay marriage amendment on the ballot in November it will certainly draw out Sali voters.
Still, Sali can be beaten. First off, we assume the playing field is not level; Rs will win, everything else being equal, given the affinity for that R label in this state. Sali is obviously going to flog the "conservative vs liberal" line to death, and it's going to work with all the voters who don't look past the elephant on the yard sign.
To overcome that, Sali's weaknesses must be exploited, and he has some. I hope Grant continually notes the lack of Idaho R support for Sali. The Idaho R party leaders will not be endorsing him, or giving him money, and I think it will be effective to note the conspicuous absence of local support for Sali. I'd also try to get a decent "Rs for Grant" list; shouldn't be too hard.
I agree with AK at the Sniff Test that someone ought to print up T-shirts with Newcomb's "idiot" quote. I'd also like to see someone (or lots of them) wear that t-shirt and a huge dunce cap lettered "The Village Idiot", to all of Sali's events. Great visual.
A similar stunt worked against wingnut Bob Barr after he accidentally fired an antique gun and somebody started showing up at events dressed as Yosemite Sam.
I also wouldn't be afraid to discuss the abortion issue, Sali's signature issue. First, Sali was ineffective on the issue. He got one bill passed and it got shot down by the courts and cost Idaho taxpayers, what, $100,000 or so? Also, recall the 1990 election. If memory serves, abortion had become a big issue in the legislature the previous session. The Rs pushed some restrictive abortion bill. The very next election the Dems had a huge surge, capturing 50% of the Senate. Lots of Idahoans are moderate on the abortion issue.
The abortion issue is only hot with people will vote for Sali anyway. If Grant denounces abortion (the Clintonian "Safe, Legal and Rare" slogan is a good one) but talks about necessary exceptions for rape, incest, and the mother's health, I think he can blunt Sali's main issue with the more moderate electorate. Plus, Grant can label Sali as an extremist on the issue. I wouldn't make it the cornerstone of my campaign, but I'd make the point and be ready to talk about it when necessary.
I'd also be ready, and here's where bloggers can really help, to highlight Sali's statements about being brain-damaged. He admitted this, but then went on to say, in effect, that it doesn't take much brain power to be a legislator. Some 525 group could have a heyday with this statement. Popkey has referred to it from time to time. Grant ought to stay away from it but, taking a page from the Bush playbook, a surrogate could Swiftboat Sali with the statement. Either Sali was truthful about being brain damaged, or he was lying to advance his lawsuit.