You’ve probably seen this on television – the “flip and move” programs, where people buy broken-down houses for a few hundred dollars, fix them up and sell them for a healthy profit.
The talent of these house-flippers is amazing. They’re handy with tools (which I’m not), have a keen eye for design (which I don’t) and are gifted entrepreneurs to boot. My wife and I have been sorely tempted to move to Fort Worth, Texas, and buy one of these downsize specials for $50,000 or so. But reality sets in when we think about getting rid of all the junk in our house and preparing for a move to Fort Worth. Also, we don’t think much of the Dallas Cowboys.
For some time, I have wanted to talk with one of these house-flippers, and a few days ago I got my wish. Sen. Steve Vick of Dalton Gardens happens to be in that business. We didn’t talk much about house-flipping this time, aside from his mention that they make it look much easier on TV than it is in real life. But we did discuss his new position as assistant majority leader of the Idaho Senate, and what that means politically.
Vick is one of the most conservative members of the Legislature – one of the bright stars in the eyes of the Idaho Freedom Foundation, which makes him either good or bad, depending on your political perspective.
“It is (not) good news. It’s great news,” says Wayne Hoffman, who heads the IFF. “Not only is he a conservative with whom we work closely, but he’s a man of honor, integrity and credibility.”
Vick would like to think that the “honesty” and “integrity” factors played a bigger role in his election than Hoffman’s endorsements, and that’s probably accurate. If this were a House leadership position, it would be another story. The so-called “Liberty Caucus” would be celebrating wildly and seeing his election as one more step of gaining control.
The Idaho Senate doesn’t work that way. Senators generally are more formal and seem to pride themselves as statesmen. The Idaho Senate has a way of taking the steam from even the most verbose rabble-rousers of the House. Sen. Bob Nonini of Coeur d’Alene, one of the most bombastic House members from years past, has become a different person in the Senate. He’s now running for lieutenant governor, with a goal of “serving all the people” of Idaho.
Vick is approaching his leadership position in a calm, if not humble, fashion. With his elevation to leadership, and seat on the State Affairs Committee, Vick will have served in all 10 committees on the Senate side during his four terms in office. That’s a solid resume for someone in leadership.
As a matter of principle, “I would like to see a more conservative Legislature, but that’s not my job,” he said. “I think the Senate is more conservative than it was when I got here, but I didn’t campaign in such a way that I was going to make the Senate more conservative.”
While Vick is one of the most conservative members of the Legislature, Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill of Rexburg is viewed as one of the most liberal – at least by Hoffman’s group. But the two have mutual respect, and they agree on the role of party leaders.
Vick’s job includes running the Senate floor during discussion over amendments to bills – which is about as exciting as watching grass grow. He’s also the Republican Party’s floor leader in the absence of the pro tem and majority leader. That’s a nice duty, but hardly a dramatic power grab.
But Vick, who served in Montana’s legislature before coming to Idaho, is not looking for political drama. The process, as plodding as it might seem, goes with the territory of serving in the legislative branch of government – an assignment that he views as sacred.
“The Legislature is the branch that is closest to the people, and I think that it’s important that it stays strong and the branches are kept equal,” Vick says.
He has the right perspective about his new job. The politics, from an ideological standpoint, will take care of itself in years to come.