At the time of the year when NCAA basketball brackets are shredded, and hearts are broken, consider this potential upset special in the First District congressional race: Michael Snyder of Bonners Ferry.
I am not predicting that he will win, and it wouldn’t matter if I did. One look at my mangled March Madness picks will tell you the value of my predictions. But there is, at least, a narrow path to victory for this political outsider. He has been making strong impressions on the Lincoln Day circuit and candidate forums, where he shoots from the hip with his opinions and seems to be having fun in the process.
Don’t feel badly if you haven’t heard of Snyder. The media has ignored him, and this congressional race, to a large extent. “Undecided” appears to be the run-away leader in the polls, as most of the attention is focused on the hotly-contested governor’s race.
Politically, it doesn’t seem that Snyder has any business in the First District’s “final four” bracket. The field includes a former lieutenant governor (David Leroy), a former state senator (Russ Fulcher) and two state representatives.
Snyder is making his first run for public office, but he’s hardly a political novice. He bills himself as “one of the most popular conservative authors in America,” and he tosses out a lot of conservative red meat to back his claim. Recently, he wrote a commentary about how Hillary Clinton should go to prison and a book that offers a blueprint for Republicans in this election year – starting with unwavering support for President Trump.
Snyder’s strategy for winning focuses on the undecided voters. “The other candidates have their supporters, and we’re not going to steal those. But we will do everything to reach the undecided voters.”
He boasts of leading the field for “hits” on his web site and “likes” on his social media accounts. “We’re beating them on social media, and we have more yard signs than the other candidates,” he says. “In every element of campaigning, we’re trying to beat the other guys to the punch and do a better job.”
The bar is not high for winning the nomination in a six-way race. He doesn’t need 40-50 percent of the vote to win. Anything close to 30 percent could be enough to capture the nomination, and Snyder thinks he has a fair chance of reaching that number.
I keep hearing that this is Fulcher’s race to lose, with his solid conservative credentials. He also has the support of the Club for Growth, which is a potential cash cow for his campaign. But as Snyder observes, there does not appear to be a clear frontrunner in this race.
“(Fulcher’s) campaign has floundered, and has been poorly run, which opens the door for others – including me,” Snyder says. “If (Fulcher’s campaign) had done such a great job, then he would be the clear frontrunner by now.”
Good point. So, Snyder is presenting himself as the best conservative choice in the race – singing the praises of the late Helen Chenoweth, the one-time popular First District congresswoman, and Congressman Raul Labrador, who is running for governor.
Snyder has some wild and crazy ideas that don’t have a snowball’s chance of getting through Congress – such as abolishing the IRS, eliminating income taxes and shutting down the Federal Reserve. He does more than talk about limited government. “I want a government so small that you can barely see it.” And he promises that, if elected, he will use the power of his office to fight against abortion and “go to war” with Planned Parenthood.
But Snyder figures, and with justification, that his total backing of Trump’s agenda puts him somewhere in the Republican Party’s mainstream and would give him some automatic allies on Capitol Hill. Backing Trump is not a bad strategy in Idaho, where the president’s approval rating among Republicans is through the roof.
Of course, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Snyder will capture the party’s nomination on May 15, but stranger things have happened. If Snyder doesn’t win, he could take away votes from Fulcher, which would add more unpredictability to this jumbled primary race.