Idaho Republicans had a fantastic night statewide on Nov. 8. They wiped out every Idaho Democrat in the Idaho Legislature north of Boise except one. And, they won a solidly Democratic House race in Pocatello.
That district, District 29, consists primarily of the City of Pocatello south of I-86 and west of I-15. It excludes more Republican leaning Chubbuck and East Pocatello. Since redistricting in 2010, the district has been solidly Democratic. In nine races for the district’s Senate seat and two House seats, Democrats have won eight of the nine contests.
The GOP candidate was Dustin Manwaring, a young business and intellectual property lawyer. While attending law school at Drake in Iowa he worked on the Romney campaign in 2008 and 2012.
The Democratic candidate this year was David Maguire. He is a well-respected Pocatello attorney with a lengthy record of community service.
Both candidates were competitive financially, each generating over $17,000 in contributions.
Manwaring got a solid win, taking 8,609 votes to Maguire’s 7,774.
Intrigued by a Republican winning in normally Democratic Pocatello, I sent Manwaring a set of questions. Here are his answers:
1) What was your campaign message(s)?
My campaign message was built around promoting small business, supporting strong education, and protecting families. I had a particular focus around the synergies that are important between business and education and my support for the CTE initiatives, and other innovations in education, and improving go-on rates, etc. I also focused on highlighting the importance of transportation issues and improvements that are needed in Idaho’s infrastructure, workforce gap, and cooperation in economic development throughout Eastern Idaho.
2) What worked/didn’t work in the campaign?
There’s not a lot I’d say didn’t work. Everything we did likely helped at least incrementally. We made the best out of the resources we had and took advantage of timing and the media as best we could. To win campaigns, as you know, there is combination of things to have multiple contacts with voters before election day. We had billboards, participated in parades, attended forums, had mailers, ran some TV ads, and had a lot of direct contact with voters in person and by phone. A combination of doing these things in a genuine way was effective.
3) Why do you think you won?
I believed I could win. Not many did, given the politics and demographics in Pocatello. We started with a specific strategy to educate the electorate that was put into place early. It included going into nearly all of the neighborhoods and meeting voters and getting to know them and asking for their support, along with all of the other voter contacts we did, above. In hindsight, many believe there was a “Trump effect” that impacted the election. That may be in part true. In Pocatello, we had a record number of early voters that didn’t end up giving us any advantage, but overall turnout was also down from 2012. We did have a lot of new registered voters so that means we had different voters on Election Day than usual but still had lower than expected turnout based on the early voting numbers we were seeing.
Manwaring is smart, articulate and telegenic. Keep an eye on him in the future.