The City Club of Boise held an “Emergency Pundits Forum” today, a version of the luncheon panel it holds each year before the Idaho legislative session, but happening in the summer and focused on President Trump and national politics along with the 2018 Idaho governor’s race. Among the insights from the panel, which included Boise State University political scientist Justin Vaughn, Idaho lobbyist John Watts, and Associated Press reporter Kimberlee Kruesi, was how the Idaho governor’s race has an “outsider” candidate – the role Trump played in the presidential election – in political newcomer Tommy Ahlquist, which Kruesi noted.
Vaughn said BSU’s annual public policy surveys have shown for years that Idahoans consistently believe strongly that things are on the right track in their state, but not at the national level. Plus, he said, voters who are content are more likely to support an establishment candidate than a wild-card outsider promising to shake things up. Thus, the strong Idaho vote for Trump, who took 59.2 percent of the vote in Idaho to Hillary Clinton’s 27.5 percent – and a possible opposite effect for Ahlquist as he goes up against Lt. Gov. Brad Little and 1st District Congressman Raul Labrador in Idaho’s GOP primary next year.
Vaughn, who studies the presidency and is director of BSU’s Center for Idaho History and Politics, was asked by moderator Kevin Richert to put Trump into historical context. Vaughn said what we’ve seen so far in Trump’s presidency has been bizarre and chaotic. “There’s no historical precedent for Trump,” he said. “There’s no context in which this makes sense.”
History likely will view Trump as “an aberration,” Vaughn said, “a weird thing that happened in the United States.”
The forum will air on Boise State Public Radio Saturday night at 8 and Tuesday at 7 p.m.