Opinion: Primary election circus leaves town

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You can get up off your knees, North Idaho.

Those prayers have been answered, and …

The May primary is finally over.

But who can blame the average citizen for wondering if the madness would ever end?

This was a primary that saw one Kootenai County eligibility dispute settled in Boise and another in Wallace, while a District 7 beef in Shoshone County found its way to the Idaho Supreme Court.

Meanwhile …

If you’re following the bouncing candidates, this painful primary took just shy of five months to conclude, as Bill Brooks this week was officially certified as the winning candidate in the Republican primary for a county commissioner seat.

After five months of adjudication, Brooks was handed a $150 fine for filing his financial disclosure report a day late — or approximately $30 per month, if you’re counting.

Brooks’ case was tossed from a complaint to the Idaho Secretary of State, then to the Kootenai County Prosecutor’s Office, and eventually to a prosecutor in Shoshone County.

We’ll return to the absurdity of all that, but let’s remember that this was the primary in which two candidates, Kathy Sims and Phil Hart, were booted off the ballot.

Wait for it, though …

Sims and Hart were certified as candidates by Secretary of State Lawerence Denney, then de-certified, and eventually reinstated after protesting the decisions.

EVEN THOUGH they wound up on the ballot, you can argue that Sims and Hart may have lost some votes because the public — at least for a time — believed they were not eligible for office.

Hart, who ultimately lost his race in District 7 to incumbent Rep. Paul Shepherd by 944 votes out of 5,450 cast, took his case all the way to the Idaho Supreme Court.

Hart lost there, as well, and got tagged for court costs.

Sims fell 510 votes short of Tony Wisniewski for the Republican nomination in District 3, Seat B.

Perhaps neither of these races would have produced different winners without all the back-and-forth to Boise, but you’ve got to admit that Denney’s office doesn’t exactly come out of this covered with roses.

Valid, invalid, valid.

The Secretary of State’s office had three cracks at studying the particular cases in question.

I still wouldn’t bet lunch money that they got it right.

NOW BACK to the Brooks fiasco.

This one was completely an internal spat.

Brooks was an exceptionally narrow winner (480 votes out of 15,194) over incumbent Marc Eberlein for the Republican nomination to the District 1 seat on the County Commission.

Some people were very unhappy about that.

Specifically, the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee was all-in for Eberlein — and so its leadership decided to fight the result.

The complaint charged that Brooks not only was loose with facts and a day late with his financial disclosures but, most grievously, entered the race as “Bill” — instead of Robert William Brooks III.

That’s really reaching, I think, in a primary that included a Jim, Doug, John, Mary, Steve, etc., etc.

Even a Vito.

But moving along …

NOW, AS promised, we come to the word “hypocrisy.”

You would think that the Central Committee is tasked only with promoting GOP candidates in general elections.

The committee is supposed to stay out of any primary.

Yet the KCRCC passed a resolution ripping Republican gubernatorial candidate Tommy Ahlquist, and obviously was going all out to somehow push Eberlein into the general election instead of Brooks.

How exactly is that remaining neutral in primaries?

After Brooks was officially cleared, KCRCC Chairman Brent Regan called it an “unfortunate matter.”

No, Brent.

An unfortunate matter is a thunderstorm knocking out your cable TV.

You were trying like hell to get Brooks disqualified for … what?

Using too much pine tar on his bat?

Ah, but at least this ridiculous primary is over at last.

And through sheer luck, it died before Nov. 6.


Steve Cameron is a columnist for The Press.

A Brand New Day appears from Wednesday through Saturday each week.

Steve’s sports column runs on Tuesday.

Email: scameron@cdapress.com

Facebook: Steve Cameron

Twitter: @BrandNewDayCDA

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