It had to happen. After Bill Sali won the Republican primary to succeed outgoing Rep. Butch Otter, now the Republican gubernatorial nominee, it was a foregone conclusion that some moderates were not going to embrace the swashbuckling conservative. Sure enough, two of his five opponents refused to endorse Sali and a “Republicans for Grant” group was formed to back the arch-liberal Democratic nominee Larry Grant, a retired Micron executive.
But for the most part, Republicans in Idaho’s 1st District are enthusiastically behind Sali, a state legislator for 16 years, who has taken the lead on virtually every conservative issue to come up.
Conservative grass-roots activists as well as national organizations on the right including the Club for Growth and local pro-life groups such as Idaho Chooses Life, helped put Sali over the top in the nomination battle. Along with his solid pro-life position, Sali made no secret of his enthusiasm for denying unlimited public education, health care and welfare to illegal immigrants and his support for deporting those who entered the U.S. illegally. “And I was the only candidate who could say he never, ever voted for a tax increase—not the sales tax, income tax or even a cigarette tax,” declared Sali.
Where does Sali differ from John Kerry contributor and political newcomer Grant? In the GOP hopeful’s words: “On just about everything important. He wants to raise taxes to get rid of the deficit—I want to cut spending, including abolishing the Department of Education. What does a bureaucrat in an air-conditioned office in Washington, D.C., know about education in my hometown of Kuna? He calls for more funding for the arts—I want to close down the National Endowment for the Arts. He wants to let the Bush tax cuts expire—I want them to be permanent, so there will be more jobs and a smaller deficit. He’s pro-choice—I’m pro-life. Do I need to continue?”
No, he doesn’t. Conservatives should quickly get the message about Idaho’s 1st District: A Bill Sali in Congress will reinvigorate their cause, but he’ll need their help to get there.