Larry Kenck was elected chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party in February of 2013.
He is a fourth generation Post Falls native. He is a retired business agent and organizer for Teamsters Union Locals 582 and 690, having done so for over 20 years. He ran twice as a Democrat for the Idaho State Senate and has held the position of Precinct Captain in Post Falls, and chair of the Kootenai County Democratic Party Committee. He was the spokesman for the Repeal Right to Work effort in Idaho and has served as a member of the Idaho State AFL-CIO for many years. Kenck sits on the Idaho State Industrial Commission Advisory Board representing the interests of Idaho’s workers.
1. How did Idaho Republicans win every statewide race in 2014 despite numerous primary battles and a disastrous state convention?
The Republican Convention of 2014 was an entertaining disaster by all media accounts. But a party’s internal workings usually does not sway the voters. I doubt most voters even know the planks of the Republican Party Platform the candidates agreed to uphold. I feel those positions would be far more disturbing to voters than antics at the convention. In Idaho, it is a struggle to appeal to voters who are accustomed to voting for Republicans. That said, more and more Idaho voters are seeing that GOP politicians have distracted us by invoking national politics, even as they fail us right here at home. That is changing. Nearly half of Idaho’s voters backed our Idaho Democratic Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate and, until the very end when the GOP Wave swept the nation, we were competitive in the Secretary of State and Governor’s races. You don't think the Republican Governor’s Association spent heavily in Idaho because they thought it was a cake-walk for Otter, do you?
2. How is the Legislature performing in this session?
This legislative session has not been in the best interest of Idaho’s citizens. Thus far, critical issues have been ignored. As Idaho languishes near the bottom of practically every indicator, the Republican Leadership refuses to address those issues. Attempts to raise the minimum wage, better investment in schools, and maintaining investment in roads and bridges have fallen on deaf ears. The first thing the GOP supermajority did this year was to belittle the efforts of a little girl who took ownership of her education and worked hard on a bill to make the Giant Idaho Salamander our state amphibian. That’s how these GOP politicians treat the things that are important to regular Idahoans—smack them down and just pass partisan litmus tests for the next Republican primary. We deserve elected folks who listen to us, and that’s exactly what Idaho Democrats are working toward.
3. What are you doing to build the Idaho Democratic Party in 2015 and 2016?
The work we started two years ago in rebuilding our Party and reenergizing Democrats in Idaho is well on the road. Our work leading to the 2014 election brought out exceptional candidates up and down the ticket, and the issues were aired and discussed. We have encouraged and built Democratic organizations in areas that had not seen anything in years. We just had about 600 people involved in our annual Frank and Bethine Church Gala in Boise. You would be impressed at the level of energy, optimism, and commitment found in that group. Idaho Democrats know that we are growing and that the Republican Party is contracting. The reason we are growing is because we work on issues that are most important to regular Idahoans—such as putting and keeping money in the pockets of workers. The converse is true of Republican politicians who use government to benefit a few wealthy and influential people—something on display this year when Idaho schools saw a 37% savings after the governor’s crony-contract for school internet collapsed.
4. Who do you see as future Democratic leaders?
All of our leaders are future leaders. That’s because we are growing, and we need their commitment and expertise. You can find rising stars in the Idaho Legislature. And it was wonderful to watch Idahoans embrace a candidate such as Holli Woodings when she ran for Idaho Secretary of State, and AJ Balukoff who continues to put his energy and expertise behind our effort to bring balance to our state. In truth, many of Idaho’s future leaders are not yet well-known. They are mayors and city councilors. They are members of Idaho’s business community who are looking for the right set of circumstances to leap in and serve the public. They exist in the trenches of the Latino communities who are engaging in our civic discourse with commitment, compassion, and new ideas. This is an exciting time. We look forward to helping Idaho get to know the faces of our future. Before us is a new era where we start electing people who put the interests of regular Idahoans above politicians who most-highly reward campaign contributors and lobbyists.
5. What do you like to do in your spare time?
I was retired and enjoying those “golden years” when I was sought out for the Party Chairmanship position two years ago. Since then, it has been a lot of work and long hours spent bringing balance back to Idaho. I try to fit time for my family and grandkids into this schedule, and I enjoy every minute I can spend with them. Traveling around the state has been a real treasure for me. Even though I am a fourth generation Post Falls guy, I had not taken the time just to travel Idaho. Since being elected Chairman in 2013, I have traveled to all parts and corners of the state to see our geography and meet great people. I played football and basketball in my younger years, and I still enjoy watching and following those events. Post Falls High School won the state championship titles this year in both basketball and wrestling, and I enjoyed supporting our young athletes.