Blaine County Republicans are gearing up for tough election fights this year in Legislative District 26, acknowledging that Democrats are energized and excited about the prospect of flipping a key House of Representatives seat belonging to Rep. Steve Miller, R-Fairfield.
At the Blaine County Republican Party’s annual picnic south of Bellevue on Saturday, speakers tried to inspire the same level of energy and enthusiasm among the party members present.
About 80 people attended the picnic, held at River Sage Stables off Gannett Road.
Blaine County Republican Party Chairman Michael Leach drew a comparison to an iceberg to illustrate his point. He said it demonstrates the number of people who support President Donald Trump, but also the number of Republicans in Blaine County.
An iceberg has a visible crest, but its largest mass sits below the surface and out of sight. He said that describes Republicans in the U.S.—a vocal group who aren’t shy of their support for the president, and still plenty of others who are less visible but will still show up at the polls on Election Day.
“We have 81 days until Nov. 6,” Leach told the crowd. “It is time to stop rolling over because we think we’re going to be defeated. Let the Democrats keep blaming America for our problems. We’re here to win. We’ve got the candidates to win.”
The picnic featured speeches from several statewide Republican candidates, as well as the three Republicans running for seats in Legislative District 26—Miller, Mike McFadyen, of Fairfield, and Julie Lynn, of Ketchum. Republican Mick Halverson is running for a seat on the Blaine County Board of County Commissioners in November and also spoke to the audience.
Janice McGeachin, the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor, Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, Secretary of State Lawerence Denney and Julie Ellsworth, the Republican nominee for state treasurer, also addressed the crowd.
Denney assured the audience that the Secretary of State’s Office would not fall victim to attempts to subvert or compromise the outcomes of the general election this year.
He said Idaho relies on 100 percent paper balloting, and the Secretary of State’s Office recently installed new software to protect the computer systems from “bad actors.” He said the software typically records 250 “hits” a day, or attempts to breach its security, which spiked to more than 27,000 on the day of the primary election in May. The system withstood the attempts, he said.
“That election will not be disrupted,” Denney said. “I’m confident it will keep the bad actors out. In Idaho, we are a 100 percent paper-ballot state. We have an auditable paper system.”
Miller said he was preparing for his toughest re-election fight this fall, as he is running against Hailey Democrat and Paralympic medalist Muffy Davis.
“We need a lot of help there,” Miller said. “It’s going to be my toughest race. The Dems are going to be fired up. We’re going to carry on and do the best we can.”
Miller is seeking his fourth term in office, and said people question why he continues to run for re-election. He said he wants to help people, including business owners hurt by government regulation or overreach.
“It’s the injustice I see that happens to certain people,” he said. “We need to be able to let people do business. We can’t baby everyone. We have to be responsible for our own actions, our own choices.”
Lynn and McFadyen are running for the Legislature for the first time. Lynn is challenging Senate Minority Leader Michelle Stennett, D-Ketchum, and McFadyen is running against Rep. Sally Toone, D-Gooding.
McFadyen said he spent more than 30 years in his career in business “as a fixer”—that is, someone brought in to fix someone else’s mistake. He started his career focusing on pile-driving projects for marine construction projects, before moving on to managing infrastructure and defense projects, according to his campaign website. He moved to Idaho after retiring in 2011.
In his bid for the Legislature, McFadyen said he wants to be a protector.
“The reason we’re the fastest growing region in the country is there’s nothing wrong here,” McFadyen said. “I’m going to go from fixer to protector. I’m going to do everything I can to protect what you’ve built.”
Lynn said she was motivated to run to see that Idaho provides affordable, market-based health insurance. She said too many residents risk overwhelming financial burdens from health problems.
“They’re one emergency surgery away from financial ruin,” she said. “That can’t happen.”