Larry LaRocco: Idaho's Jon Tester?

Andrew Simon

This morning I had the opportunity to meet and talk with Larry LaRocco, a former Congressman and candidate for U.S. Senate in Idaho. Idaho isn't exactly a Democratic stronghold and he faces an uphill struggle to beat either incumbent GOP Senator Larry Craig or whoever they throw at LaRocco, should Craig retire. He's going to need all of the help he can get.

Why should Blue Oregonians care about our neighbors to the east?

First, LaRocco can win and Democratic pickups in 2008 can help turn our slim majority to a strong majority. The victories of Jon Tester in Montana and Ken Salazar in Colorado show that the Mountain West is turning Blue. There have been some promising indicators in Idaho. In 2006, Democratic challengers beat six incumbent Republicans in the State House and the Democratic challenger came within 5% of beating the incumbent Republican in Idaho's First Congressional District.

LaRocco is a veteran, small business owner and innovative campaigner. He recognizes the importance of the netroots and plans to actively use to the internet to generate nationwide support. McJoan of Daily Kos wrote that LaRocco's candidacy is "a huge step forward for the Idaho netroots--a statewide candidate who recognizes the potential for using this medium." Read her report on his announcement from a few months ago here.

Second, LaRocco is a quasi-Oregonian, although I wouldn't recommend repeating that to Idaho voters. He and his wife are graduates of the University of Portland and he ran Frank Church's winning primary campaign in Oregon in 1976.

Obviously, we'll have a big Senate race here in Oregon in 2008 and we have a great candidate to run against Gordon Smith but we all can do three small things to help Larry LaRocco...

Donate 25 bucks via Act Blue.

Tell family and friends in Idaho about the campaign.

And keep your ears open - LaRocco will most likely be back in Portland in a few months for a fundraising event. Don't miss this opportunity to meet and help a kind, passionate public servant.


  • (Show?)

    I second Andrew's message.

    In addition to LaRocco being a great candidate he is running against a truly awful conservative. Among his sins is that he ran the veteran's committee during a period when Bush was screwing soldiers & vets with funding that ran out, the terrible conditions at Walter Reed, and cuts in funding for researching brain wounds. Craig saluted Bush and did nothing. Of course Craig ducked service in the Vietnam war the same way George did. Did I mention that LaRocco was an army veteran on active duty at the same time that Craig was in the Guard?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)

    The victories of Jon Tester in Montana and Ken Salazar in Colorado show that the Mountain West is turning Blue.

    Ken Salazar is blue? I haven't checked all his votes but some had me questioning his place on the political spectrum.

  • (Show?)

    he ran Frank Church's winning primary campaign in Oregon in 1976.

    Meaning, of course, Senator Frank Church's winning presidential primary campaign. Frank Church was a US Senator from Idaho. He won the primaries in Nebraska, Idaho, Oregon and Montana.

    Incidentally, I've been trying to find examples of people who defeated incumbent Senators - despite being "nobodies" (not a statewide or congressional elected official, not a presidential appointee, not a millionaire). You can add Frank Church to that list (along with Paul Wellstone, Conrad Burns, and Orrin Hatch.). From Wikipedia:

    Frank Church became an active Democrat in Idaho and after an unsuccessful try for the State Legislature in 1952, he ran for the United States Senate in 1956. After a closely contested primary election against former Senator Glen H. Taylor, Church handily defeated the Republican incumbent Herman Welker in the general election. At the age of 32, Church became the fifth youngest member ever to sit in the U.S. Senate.
  • Julie in Boise (unverified)

    Thanks, Andrew, for this great introduction. I am working with Larry on his campaign, and I'll just add a few links.

    Larry's Facebook page

    Larry's MySpace

    Finally, Larry will be live blogging in the diaries at Daily Kos at 11 a.m. this Wednesday, June 27. (You can read his last diary here. He will be talking about his Working for Senate campaign in which he is working at different jobs during the campaign.

    We'll also be launching a 72-hour (Wed-Sat) end-of-quarter blograiser at ActBlue at that time. LaRocco has a real shot at matching or outraising the sitting senator this quarter, so we appreciate anything all of you can do to help spread the word and get the campaign on the national radar. We need a bigger majority in the U.S. Senate!

  • Matt Singer (unverified)

    Burns was a county commissioner in Montana's largest county when he ran for U.S. Senate. That's not a huge launching pad, but it's significant. His district included about 30,000 voters -- far more than a typical House district. And while legislators have their statewide network, county commissioners talk quite often with their counterparts across the state, giving deep connections into a low-profile but huge network of early backers who can do introductions to the important people in their own communities.

  • Matt Singer (unverified)

    Also, he had been a radio announcer for years on the state's biggest radio network -- doing agricultural reports. The closest comparison I can think of is Michael Bloomberg, without the ability to self-finance. Of course, back in '88, the self-financing wasn't quite as big of a deal, either.

    Anyways, Burns was serious enough that his early backers included people like Dennis Rehberg, who managed his campaign.

  • (Show?)

    Thanks, Matt, for the clarification. Not to hijack the thread, but it's amazing to me how rare it is that a "nobody" beats an incumbent US Senator. So, Conrad Burns wasn't exactly a nobody.... I just watched the documentary "Wellstone!" a couple nights ago, and he certainly wasn't an unknown quantity either, having run for State Auditor. Looks like Orrin Hatch is the only true example I've been able to come up with...

  • Grant Schott (unverified)

    I'm surprised but happy that LaRocco is returning to politics. It's hard to believe, but in the early 90's, Idaho had 2/2 Democratic U.S. Reps (the other was Richard Stallings). LaRocco lost re-election by 10 points to the late Helen Chenowith in 1994. That was largely because of the conservative sweep that year, but also because LaRocco had some scandal or rumor of scandal. I can't remember exactly what it was, but it seems like it involved his staff. Chenowith was such a nut that she almost lost in '96.

    I would add that former OR congressman Mike Kopetski was Church's co-chairman in OR in '76

  • Julie in Boise (unverified)

    I just saw one other thing we ought to correct. In last year's Idaho-1 race, Larry Grant came within 5% of beating Bill Sali, who got less than 50% in an open-seat race to replace Butch Otter. It was a heartbreaker, but considering the fact Bush got close to 70% in the district in both 2000 and 2004, we are definitely gaining ground.


connect with blueoregon