Idaho’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention have wended their ways to Charlotte, N.C., where the convention gets underway today. The delegate list includes prominent party members like Sen. Edgar Malepeai, from Pocatello, and Boise Mayor David Bieter, as well as a retired mailman, a teacher, an electrician, and the president of Idaho Young Democrats, Morgan Hill. The full list is available here.
“There’s a kind of complicated formula, but the majority of the people on the list were elected at the state convention,” explains Dean Ferguson, the Idaho Democratic Party’s communications director. “They had to give speeches to their fellow delegates about why they were best to go.”
Ferguson hasn’t talked directly with all of the delegates, but he ticks off several issues that he believes are top-of-mind for Idaho Democrats as the election draws near. “Women’s rights issues — there are going to be a lot of people talking about that,” he says. “Economic issues are very important. When we talk about tackling debt, not putting that only on the shoulders of working people.”
Then there’s education. “College affordability and educational excellence are pretty important, particularly this year,” Ferguson says, alluding to the series of education reforms nicknamed the Luna laws, which will be put to a vote in November.
In this overwhelmingly Republican state, Democrats are often viewed as a lonely bunch. It’s a point Ferguson acknowledges, but he says the Idaho Democratic Party is committed to unity and collaboration with Democrats elsewhere. “Yes, Idaho is a conservative state, but Democrats are here, talking about progressive values, struggling to build the middle class,” he says.
The delegates’ schedule is available here. Ferguson notes that most events are optional. “The only thing that’s mandatory is being there to be counted,” he says.